Observation provides the means for parish members to live the experience of Spred in order to be able to replicate Spred catechesis in parish groups.
Observation was considered an essential component of Spred training from the very beginning of our experience of the symbolic method.
For the observer, seeing means entering into the life of the group being observed.
The experience has value for a variety of circumstances. It initiates the new volunteer, gives parents an insight into the faith experience their son or daughter is receiving, gives support and new learning to catechists who have experience, alerts parish leaders to the possibility of faith growth for parish members with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Every Spred session begins with a period of preparation. Members arrive, greet one another and choose an activity. Materials are prepared that will help one to become concentrated and move toward an interior silence, a way of being that prepares one to receive the message of Jesus during the catechesis in the celebration room. Each Spred environment respects the chronological age of those being welcomed, 6-10, 11-16, 17-21, 22+.
Following the time of preparation the community gathers in a circle where each person receives the invitation to go to the celebration room. The celebration room is prepared very simply with chairs gathered in a semi circle around the book of the Word, fresh flowers, a candle and materials that will be needed for the evocation of the human experience. Each person with special needs sits with his or her catechist. Beginning with an evocation of an experience that all have lived, the catechist gradually leads all to an awareness of the presence of Jesus in and through what has been lived. Communion is the goal of each session.
The third phase of the catechetical session is called the agape. When the session is completed in the celebration room the group returns to the preparation environment where they prepare a beautiful table with flowers, candles, glass dishes and cups to enjoy food and drink together. This last phase of the experience provides a time for all to savor the experience of growing in faith together, belonging together in God's family.
The experience of observation, although a strong tool for learning skills and understanding a very special pedagogy, is first and formost an experience of catechesis for all who are present, this includes those who participate as observers. The community being observed becomes the channel for the observer's experience of communion with the Lord.