Program is one of many beneficiaries of Knights of Columbus ‘Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities’
Story by Lesa Tines
LINCOLN (SNR) – For years, St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln has offered a unique opportunity for adults with developmental disabilities to grow in their faith.
Catholic Religious Education for Adults with Developmental Disabilities is a Catholic catechism program for adults 18 years and older.
Director Msgr. Joseph Nemec and instructor Jim Fick said they believe the class originally started in 1979 and has been offered at St. Teresa Parish for the past 24-26 years. Neither is exactly sure who originally started the class, but after continuing for almost 35 years, it has benefited countless individuals.
The Catholic Church knows that the faith of each of its members is important. This class gives students with developmental disabilities a chance to grow in their faith in a loving and understanding environment.
Each year, the class is as unique as the students that participate in it. According to Fick, the curriculum for the class varies based on the number of participants and their individual needs. On one occasion, Fick was able to help two students prepare for Baptism and another to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion. He stated that not only were the individual students excited for the opportunity to grow in their faith, but that their classmates were grateful for the chance to support their friends.
Goals and objectives are created at the start of each school year. But the most important goal is to meet the needs of each student.
The average class is made up of eight to 10 students and runs in conjunction with the Catholic school year. Smaller class sizes allow Fick and his students more one-on-one time. Larger classes create a chance for interaction and discussion. Each is beneficial to all who attend.
The success of the class is largely based on not only the students in attendance but also the families who are dedicated to the education of their loved ones.
“We have some amazing parents,” Fick said. “These families see the importance of religious education and work hard to get their family member to class each week.”
Fick said their dedication is inspiring.
One such family is the Hottovys. Their son Zachary has been a member of the group for longer than his mother Yvonne can remember. She said words can’t describe how appreciative she and her family are of the class and instructors who teach it.
“I was thrilled when I heard about the class,” she said. “It’s a unique opportunity to have a community” of friends.
Yvonne said its easy to see that Zachary enjoys the class.
“On the way home, he’s a different person,” she said. “You can tell he’s been someplace he likes very much.”
Those wishing to join the Catholic Religious Education for Adults with Developmental Disabilities class should contact their parish priest who will put them in contact with Fick.
In recent years, the Catholic Religious Education for Adults with Developmental Disabilities have been the recipients of money collected through the Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities, often known as the “Tootsie Roll Drive” conducted by the Knights of Columbus. Although the Knights have no official connection with Tootsie Rolls or their manufacturer, the fundraising drive has become known by this name because people who donate are often handed a Tootsie Roll as a thank-you.
The money collected benefits many worthy organizations such as the class at St. Teresa Parish. Fick and his group are very well funded, thanks to the Knights #833 Council who have donated their “Tootsie Roll” money to the group. Although he hasn’t needed to spend a lot of money to run his class, Fick said he’s grateful for the funds to purchase the supplies he needs.
The Knights of Columbus will conduct the annual fundraiser Oct. 18-19. This program is one of the most popular and successful conducted by the Knights. Donations are collected outside stores, on street corners and after Mass.