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Fr. James McCarthy

SPRED founder

Father James McCarthy, 92, died Aug, 5. He founded and was a long-time director of Special Religious Development (SPRED), an agency of the Archdiocese of Chicago that provides ministry to adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Born in Chicago, Father McCarthy attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary, the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary and Loyola University Chicago. He was ordained in 1955.

He was assistant pastor of Santa Maria del Popolo, Mundelein; St. Gregory the Great Parish; St. Cecilia Parish (Wells Street); and Our Lady of Mercy Parish; and as pastor of St. John Nepomucene. He retired in 2007, but continued working with SPRED. 

In 1960, Father McCarthy became associate director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) in Chicago and discovered that parents had been inquiring about providing ministry to children with disabilities. They wanted their children to receive the sacraments, but no faith formation program existed for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Father McCarthy began working with parents, special educators and catechists in several parishes to make Catholic liturgies and catechesis more accessible to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Society of Helpers Sister Mary Therese Harrington soon began assisting in this work, and they were later joined by Providence Sister Susanne Gallagher.

In 1966, SPRED was established as an agency of the archdiocese. Today, 114 parishes with SPRED groups provide ministry to about 800 people with disabilities. The SPRED network has expanded beyond Chicago, administering faith formation and sacramental preparation programs for people with special needs in 28 Catholic dioceses and 200 parishes nationwide, and in numerous parishes in England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, Malta, Chile and Mexico.

He was still serving as the SPRED’s chaplain and director emeritus up until the day he died, SPRED director Joseph Quane said.

“His younger brother had intellectual disabilities, so he knew about the need and took the mission very personally,” Quane said. “He made it his mission to bring the Gospel message to some of the most poor and marginalized members of our society. He wanted people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to feel a sense of belonging in their local parish communities and wanted them to actively participate in the liturgical life of their parish. One of the greatest gifts he leaves to the SPRED community is the adult catechist formation component of SPRED. Father Jim was a strong proponent of life-long catechesis and insisted that a strong community of adult catechists, who participated in ongoing spiritual formation, was required if we are to effectively minister to our friends with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

In 2013, Father McCarthy, Harrington and Gallagher received the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame for their outstanding service to the Roman Catholic Church — the highest honor bestowed by the university.

“He was a very humble person, and he didn’t like all the honors they received,” Quane added. “He faced a lot of challenges when he started SPRED in the 1960s, because back then a lot of people didn’t think people with intellectual and developmental disabilities needed faith formation or spiritual nourishment.”

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Sr. Margaret Lane

Educator, nurse

Adrian Dominican Sister Margaret (Julia Marie) Lane, 92, died July 27 in Adrian, Michigan.

Born in Detroit, she was in the 74th year of her religious life.

Sister Margaret spent ministered education, formation, nursing and pastoral work in Michigan; Illinois; Florida; Washington, D.C.; Nicaragua; the Dominican Republic; Mexico; and Puerto Rico. She also volunteered for the New Orleans Project.

In the Archdiocese of Chicago, she taught at St. Nicholas of Tolentine (1949-1951) and St. James, Maywood (1951-1952).

She is survived by a sister, Peggy McLeod.

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Sr. Susan Hahn


Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Susan Hahn, 98, died Aug. 4 in Hazel Green, Wisconsin.

Born in Chicago, she made her first religious profession in 1944 and her perpetual profession in 1947. She taught first grade for 51 years and continued to tutor reading students for 13 more years. She served in New York, Illinois, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

In the Archdiocese of Chicago, Sister Susan taught at Immaculate Conception, Waukegan (1945-1952); Sts. Faith, Hope and Charity, Winnetka (1954-1957); and St. Vincent Ferrer, River Forest (1968-1995), where she also was a reading tutor (1995-2008).

According to her congregation, people at St. Vincent Ferrer would boast that Sister Susan had educated three straight generations of their family.

She is survived by her brother, Donald Hahn.

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Sr. Eldena Scholl


Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Eldena (Marie Evan) Scholl, 97, died Aug. 5 in Hazel Green, Wisconsin.

Born in Iowa, Sister Eldena entered the Sinsinawa Dominican congregation in 1942, left the congregation in 1968, and returned in 1982, making her first profession as a Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa in 1982, and her perpetual profession in 1985.

She was a teacher, support staff member and sacristan who served in Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa.

In the Archdiocese of Chicago, Sister Eldena taught at Visitation (1944-1952), Epiphany (1963-1964)  and St. Giles, Oak Park (1986-1987).