In today’s world, we are very much aware that people with learning disabilities, as baptized members of our Church, have spiritual rights and spiritual needs. How to respond to these needs has been something, we at id-Dar tal-Providenza, have tried to address consistently over the years.
In 2004, id-Dar tal-Providenza started to use the method called SPRED – SPecial REligious Development – which has been used successfully in many areas of the world. In SPRED each person with a learning disability has a sponsor and belongs to a small community of (usually) 14 people. To enable growth in a sense of the sacred, the environment where people meet is very carefully prepared. A room that offers a warm welcome with few distractions helps people settle and become ready for a more explicit sacred experience. After about 45 minutes, the group gathers round God’s Word in another room which is like an oratory and are guided, by the Leader Catechist, through meaningful catechesis. What is very real for our residents are the ordinary everyday events of life – eating, drinking, laughing with friends, waiting for someone to arrive, visiting. It is these ordinary events that are remembered at a SPRED session, skilfully evoked by the Leader Catechist. From the human, we move to the Divine for God reveals Himself in the ordinary. Every session ends with the sharing of food round a table that everyone helps to prepare. The whole experience lasts two hours.
The group of catechists meet the following week to review the last session and to prepare, through prayer, for the next gathering.
Since catechesis and Liturgy are intrinsically linked, the celebrations of Mass in the Chapel at id-Dar tal-Providenza take on more profound depths. The quiet and prayerfulness experienced at a SPRED session are brought to the Liturgy: the liturgical experiences of the Mass are evoked and deepened at the SPRED session. Through this balance of catechesis and liturgy, all are nurtured to enter more deeply into the mystery of God “doing something beautiful for us and among us.”
In SPRED the helpers grow in faith. The friends grow in faith. Together, as companions, they journey, sharing faith.
If you are interested in sharing your faith and friendship with persons with learning disabilities contact SPRED on Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This post is also available in: Maltese