Notre Dame Preaching Academy

"The homily can actually be an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth.” —Pope FrancisEvangelii Gaudium, #135.


About the Preaching Academy Process

A One-Year Program: The University of Notre Dame, through the John S. Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgics has offered a one-year program for renewing Catholic preachers. With support from the Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis and the Marten family, the goal of "The Rev. William A. Toohey, C.S.C. Notre Dame Preaching Academy" was to help preachers to learn to bring their people into an encounter with the living God. This program ceased in June of 2020. The curriculum materials used to create this vibrant experience are being edited for publication for a broader audience.

Pastoral Focus: Our focus has been pastoral: we have consistently asked: how can our preaching inspire our folks toward a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ? How can we help them to see the Holy Spirit moving in their lives? How can we guide our them toward discipleship and mission in everyday life?

Peer Learning Groups: At the core of this one-year program were peer learning groups. Priests or deacons came together monthly in an atmosphere of mutual support. They received and gave constructive feedback on their peer's homilies. The preachers studied and discussed practical ways to grow in their preaching. The Preaching Academy provided curriculum resources, workshops, and three one-on-one coaching opportunities.

Three Retreats: The program began and ended on the Notre Dame campus in the summer, either at the biennial preaching conference or at the two-day summer retreat. In the middle of the one year program, there was a four-day winter preaching intensive at the Franciscan Retreat House in Tampa, Florida.


Who has been involved in this project?

Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding to continue this project, there is no recruitment.

The 2019 cohort which began in June of 2019 includes:

  • Archdiocese of Chicago, IL
  • Archdiocese of Newark, NJ
  • Archdiocese of New York City, NY
  • Diocese of Dallas, TX (piloting the program with a group of deacons for the first time)

The 2018 cohort who finished in June, 2019 included: 

  • Diocese of Dallas, TX
  • Diocese of Kalamazoo, MI
  • Diocese of Victoria, TX

See a list of past participants here.



Rev. Michael E. Connors, C.S.C., Director
The John S. Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgics
Department of Theology, 234 Malloy Hall
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana  46556-4619
Telephone: 574-631-3006

Fr. William Toohey, C.S.C., was the first homiletics instructor at the University of Notre Dame. A renowned preacher and social activist, Father Toohey was the Director of Campus Ministry at Notre Dame from 1970 until his untimely death in 1980. The Preaching Academy is dedicated to his memory.