Special Religious Education (SPRED): A Year in Review

Posted on July 31, 2022 by Published by

SPECIAL RELIGIOUS EDUCATION (SPRED) – A Year in Review – 2021-2022 

After a challenging year in so many respects, SPRED’s third year ended with a FRIEND’S session on June 25, 2022.  Due to the insurgence of COVID, we had to pause our in-person meetings from August through February; however, Catechists met via ZOOM to stay connected and pray.  Also, during that time, the Catechists were able to share friendship, joy and hope with our Friends through cards and a home visit.  In-person meetings resumed on March 12, 2022 and both Catechists and Friends were thrilled to be reunited.

SPRED is a program developed by the Archdiocese of Chicago to foster the religious development of persons with developmental disabilities.  The goal is to make it possible for each parish to welcome our Friends into a SPRED group, where they become prepared to participate in the liturgical life of their parish.

Here at OLW our SPRED group consists of eight volunteer Catechists, who are paired with six Friends, aged 22 plus.  Through the program Friends discover a place where they belong and enjoy meaningful relationships, which not only helps them realize their individual importance to God, but also prepares them to enter community worship at OLW.

As SPRED’s third year ends, we are humbled by the strength of our Friends and look forward to gathering again in the Fall.

A special thank you to our 2021-2022 Ministry members:

  • John Birmingham, Catechist
  • Zamir Hannon, Catechist
  • Malinda Kesteloot, Catechist
  • Mark Staker, Catechist
  • Lynne Toomey, Catechist
  • Beth Ann Finis, Activity Catechist
  • Maureen Loughery, Leader Catechist
  • Tom Aichele, Chair

As we move into our fourth year, we reflect on the founding of Our Lady of the Wayside SPRED program for 22+ year-old Friends  and extend a special thanks to Micki Naylor, Linda Hoskins, Ellen Tomasek for hosting the first recruitment meeting in November 2017.  There were only four team members then, however, look at the OLW SPRED team now.  We’re Wayside strong!!!  A special thanks also to Julia Hess and SPRED’s Executive Director Joe Quane for their continuing guidance and support.

As we continue to look toward a strong future, we are embracing a new shift in OLW SPRED’s leadership in order to ensure fresh insights, new energies, and make way for future leaders.  Effective July 1, 2022 the leadership changes follow:

  • Lynne Toomey assumes the role of SPRED Chair
  • Beth Ann Finis assumes the role of Lead Catechist
  • Tom Aichele will continue to serve as a Helper Catechist
  • Maureen Loughery will support transition efforts and will then step away from her role in SPRED to devote time to other ministries

If you know anyone interested in joining this Ministry, as a Friend or Catechist, please feel free to contact us.  For more information on the OLW SPRED program visit our website at then choose SPRED on the drop down.  You also may visit the Archdiocese of Chicago SPRED website at:  Meanwhile, please keep OLW’s SPRED in your thoughts and prayers.

SPRED Leadership Team 2022-2023

Lynne Toomey, Chair,
Beth Ann Finis, Leader Catechist,

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