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.

From the USCCB: Download Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities (PDF)

About SPRED sessions

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.

  1. The session begins with a welcoming time and a prayerful group activity related to the Mass, sacred scripture, and daily life.
  2. The second part includes listening to readings and messages from Sacred Scripture, singing sacred music, and concludes with a personal blessing.
  3. 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.  

SPRED resources 

SPRED Sessions 2021-22

SPRED Updates (revised)

Handouts (PDF downloads)

SPRED locations by Deanery



Cathedral of Saint Thomas More (coming soon)

Saint Anthony of Padua (Falls Church)




Basilica of St. Mary (Alexandria)

Church of the Nativity (Burke)

Holy Spirit Parish (Annandale)

Saint Bernadette Parish (Springfield)



Corpus Christi Parish (Aldie)

Our Lady of Hope Parish (Potomac Falls)

Saint Francis de Sales (Purcellville) - (regional program for multiple parishes)


DEANERY IV: New programs are forthcoming/check back



All Saints Parish (Manassas)

Our Lady of Angels Parish (Woodbridge)

Sacred Heart Parish (Manassas)



Saint Timothy Parish (Chantilly)



Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Fredericksburg- (regional program for multiple parishes)

Saint William of York Parish (Stafford)