The John S. Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgics is the University of Notre Dame's response to the universal plea for preaching renewal. We work to help clergy bring their people into an encounter with the living God. For those who speak, there is no greater satisfaction than when a listener says, "You helped me find God." For those who listen to the Word of God and the words from the pulpit, there is a hunger to experience God stirring within their hearts. All of us, whether in the pulpit or the pew, long to grow closer to the One who made us and sustains us.
So in our preaching, let us go deeper, to learn to both speak and listen with joy and reverence. Preaching matters.
Let us renew our confidence in preaching, based on the conviction that it is God who seeks to reach out to others through the preacher, and that he displays his power through human words. (Evangelii Gaudium #136)
The Marten Program began at Notre Dame in 1983 with a generous gift from John S. and Virginia Marten of Indianapolis. These dedicated parents were especially interested in the way that Sunday homilies impacted the faith of their children. From that initial hunger for more effective preaching, they began to support the training of preachers.
- Fr. John Allyn Melloh, S.M. was the founding director of the Notre Dame Marten Program. He retired from the faculty in 2008.
- Fr. Michael E. Connors, C.S.C. has been the director of the program since 2010.
- Dr. Karla J. Bellinger came on board as the Associate Director in 2015 and retired in August of 2020.
Virginia Marten and her family have remained vitally interested in the Marten Program. We are grateful for their ongoing support!
Pictured at the National Festival of Young Preachers (from left): Fr. Mike Connors CSC; Mike Urbaniak, Dennis Strach CSC, Chase Pepper CSC; Mrs. Virginia Marten; Mary Beth Ashley May; Jim Marten.
The Marten Program has sponsored Preaching and Liturgical Celebration courses within the University of Notre Dame since 1983, through the Master of Divinity Program. An annual event for MDiv students and Notre Dame faculty has been the Marten Lecture in Homiletics.
Outreach to the broader homiletic community began in 2012 when the Marten Program began its biennial summer preaching conferences. These conferences have led to the publication of several books; more than a hundred of those conference videos can be found on our Resources page. The Notre Dame Preaching Academy was a Lilly Endowment funded project that ran from January of 2016 to June of 2020. The focus for that project was "preaching for encounter," asking, "How do we do that?" and "What does that look like?"
Collaborations within Notre Dame include:
- Department of Theology
- McGrath Institute for Church Life
- Notre Dame Center for Liturgy
- Campus Ministry
- Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism
The Marten Program has also collaborated with a number of offices and entities in the broader Catholic community. National partners have included:
- U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Catholic Coalition on Preaching
- Catholic Association of Teachers of Homiletics
- Societas Liturgica
- North American Academy of Liturgy
- North American Forum on the Catechumenate
- Academy of Preachers.