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Catholic Voice
April 3, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
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During the Mass, SPRED friends and catechists came to the front of the church to add sacred gestures to the responsorial psalm. The SPRED ministry's mission is "to integrate people with developmental disabilities into the faith and life of the Church."

Left, Julian Boim, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, and grandparents Maria and Gil Boim. Right, Michelle Martinez-Kilty, program coordinator, processes in with the first of 10 enthusiastic members of the Special Religious Education Department.

Bishop confirms 10 friends of Jesus

Ten enthusiastic members of the SPRED — Special Religious Education Department — community were confirmed by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, in a March 15 evening Mass at St. Paschal Baylon Church in Oakland.

Accompanied by their sponsors, each of the 10 stood before the bishop to be sealed with the sign of the sacrament. From the pews, their families savored the moment. Also in the pews were the catechists who had spent years with the confirmandi, in the nearby SPRED model center or in parish-based groups.

Each of the SPRED friends, above, approached Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, who marked each one with the Holy Chrism. Each encounter ended with the bishop saying, "peace be with you." Many responded, "And with your spirit." Below, Julian Boim, and his grandparents, Maria and Gil Boim, posed with Bishop Barber after Mass.

In the SPRED community, a participant is called a friend. That friend is paired with a catechist. In the SPRED liturgy, the homily begins, "Jesus says to you today …"

In his homily, Bishop Barber used those words, adding, "I want you to be my friend."

The homily, accompanied by gestures, is repeated three times, with the celebrant turning his attention to each segment of the church. No one is left out.

At the word "friend," the bishop crossed his hands over his heart.

"Those who are friends of Jesus get marked with very special Holy Oil," the bishop told them. "Holy Oil carries with it special presence of God, the Holy Spirit. It soaks into your skin and goes inside your body, into your soul and never leaves.

"God never leaves you," he said. "He's there forever inside you."

The confirmandi ranged in age from 16 to 54. The eldest has been part of the SPRED community since his teen years.

The candidates for confirmation were presented to the bishop by Michelle Martinez-Kilty, coordinator of the program since the retirement of Sister Aurora Perez, SHF, in 2013. The candidates represented SPRED programs at St. Isidore Parish in Danville; St. John the Baptist Parish in San Lorenzo; and St. Joseph Parish in Fremont. Three were from SPRED Model Center programs: ages 11-16; ages 17-21; and the 17-21 Spanish program.

The SPRED Mass included music, with sacred gestures — prayerfully uplifted arms, for example — by catechists and friends. Those in the pews, and on the altar, joined in. There were vibrant responses, and enthusiastic singing.


The annual dinner-dance fundraiser for The Special Religious Education Department.

When: April 29

Where: St. Isidore Parish,
440 La Gonda Way, Danville
4 p.m. liturgy
5:15 p.m. Registration and social
6-9 p.m. Dinner and dancing

Also: raffle, photo music, music by DJ Jonel

Tickets: Adults $30, kids $12

Register by April 19:
or 510-635-7252.
No tickets sold at the door.

Gil Boim, grandfather of one of the confirmandi, Julian, complimented the teachers at SPRED. "They taught him very well," Biom said.

In their house, he said, Julian makes sure family members get to church on time and offers prayers at meals.

In addition to the years of preparation with their catechists, the SPRED contingent practiced for the confirmation with Rev. Alexander Castillo.

"Thank you for handing on the faith to your children, brothers, sisters and friends," the bishop said to the gathering at the end of Mass. Those thanks would be repeated many times over, as the newly confirmed and their families lined up to take their picture with the bishop. One mother remarked that she already had a frame at home, waiting.

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