“But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”Matthew 19:14
The San Juan del Rio Prep Special Needs program was inspired by the 42 registered families who have children with special needs. Monina Mulleague, the religious education coordinator for this St. Johns County parish, leads a hands-on, fully customizable program designed to help children better understand their faith and bring them closer to God. The faith formation curriculum, from Loyola Press, is adapted for children with special needs. “I’ve had parents come to me in tears because they can’t go to Mass because the music overly sensitizes their children, such as bells, even coughing. They are so overwhelmed,” she said. This program gives parents hope through specialized catechetical support with monthly meetings and training on how to use the program. The PREP Special Needs team guides families through the curriculum, offering individual assessments for each child.
In 2020, the Catholic Foundation awarded a grant to San Juan del Rio Parish to help launch their PREP Special Needs program. The flexible program has various models which are adapted and matched to the specific needs of the child, including both integrative classroom and at-home options. Learning tools – foam puzzles, finger puppets, picture cards – are an integral part of the curriculum and can be used at home. (Don’t worry, all the manipulatives are thoroughly sterilized between users!)
The Church calls for all baptized to have accessible faith formation. The PREP Special Needs program accompanies families and children with specific learning needs, leading them to the sacraments. Monina Mulleague joyfully invites all parishes to join San Juan del Rio, the largest PREP program in the diocese, on their journey to serve special needs children in their faith formation.
“Despite their challenges and hardships, they too have the same divine calling as everyone else. They are not just recipients but are also capable of proclaiming the Gospel and a witness of Christian boldness, strength, and courage, carrying out the virtues that we all hope for. They enrich every aspect of Church life.”Monina Mulleague
DRE, San Juan Del Rio Parish