Special Ministries




The purpose of the Office of Special Needs Ministries it to affirm the Baptismal promise of individuals with disabilities to participate in the life and mission of the Church. It does this through education, advocacy, affirmation, and family support. It also seeks to support the efforts of local parish leadership to encourage meaningful participation of individuals with disabilities.in all aspects of parish life, including the liturgy, the Sacraments, catechesis, faith formation, ministry, evangelization, social life and the mission of the church.



The Special Religious Development (SPRED) Program serves children and young adults with developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome, Autism, and Learning Disabilities. Participants do not use a textbook and the ability to read is not necessary. 

During each session, the participants, or "friends," share in catechesis and joyful activities designed to lead them closer to their best friend, Jesus. Sacramental instruction is provided and is based on readiness of the individual.

SPRED sessions are designed around a specific topic and follow a symbolic method of religious instruction to develop faith relationships. Volunteer adults share their faith with SPRED friends!

The SPRED program was founded by the Archdiocese of Chicago; topics/themes change annually, and all course material is provided to participating dioceses.

Each session has three components: Gathering and Welcoming, Sacred Scripture, and Agape. The session begins with welcoming time and a prayerful group activity related to the Mass, Sacred Scripture, and Daily Life. The second part includes listening to readings and messages from Sacred Scripture, singing sacred music, and concludes with a personal blessing. The final component of each session is a special Agape gathering for fellowship time and a snack. 

SPRED sessions are held 12 times each year, typically from September through April.  


Ministry for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The Mission of the Ministry for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is to serve those persons who were born Deaf, or later became deafened or Hard of Hearing with their particular spiritual needs.  The Ministry works in harmony with the overarching Mission of the Diocese and also specifically with the Office of Faith Formation.  This Ministry, started at the inception of the Diocese, has a purpose  of initially providing the Deaf community with the opportunity to be educated in their Catholic faith through the Faith Formation Program.   The Deaf are prepared for the sacraments, receive the sacraments and the opportunity to actively socialize and participate in the life of the Church, through the medium of Sign.  Interpreting is available for Baptisms and the other sacraments, Masses at our Parish Centers, meetings with Parish Priests and other occasions as Deaf Community members seek to enhance their Catholic faith.  More recently, Closed Captioning has been added for the Mass at St. Theresa's Parish, Ashburn for those who prefer a captioned form of communication.

Religious instruction is available in smaller classes with the Catechetical Curriculum for young Deaf students, and for adults as well, there are offerings of various themes related to different aspects of our faith.  Whether the need focuses on education, on pastoral care, or the opportunity to expand the use of sign to share in the conversation about our beliefs, there are Sign Classes available for family members and other interested persons. The Interpreting Services also support and facilitate religious activities.  The Outreach Program connects the Deaf with other spiritual activities in and outside the Diocese so Deaf members have access to grow in knowledge and in spirit. 

From Baptismal initiation into the Church, until Christian burial, the Ministry for the Deaf has as its goal to educate and serve the spiritual needs of Deaf members of the Diocese so they can participate and develop in their faith to reach their full spiritual potential.  This potential for the Deaf, as with the other communities blessed with their own unique gifts, is to become the gifted and called members of our Diocese that these diverse members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community are meant to be.