Preaching Academy

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" 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

William Toohey PreachingFr. 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.

The University of Notre Dame, through the John S. Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgics, has initiated a one-year program for renewing Catholic preachers. With support from the Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis, the goal of "The Rev. William A. Toohey, C.S.C. Notre Dame Preaching Academy" is to help preachers to learn to bring their hearers into an encounter with the living God.   Our focus is pastoral: we consistently ask, how can our preaching inspire our people 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 people toward discipleship and mission in everyday life?

At the core of this one-year program are peer-learning groups. Priests come together monthly in an atmosphere of mutual support. They receive and give constructive feedback on their peer's homilies. They study and discuss practical ways to grow in their preaching. The Preaching Academy provides curriculum resources, online discussion opportunities, and three personal coaching sessions.

The program begins and ends 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 is a four day winter preaching retreat in a warm and sunny place. (For the 2017 and 2018 cohorts, that's the Franciscan Retreat House in Tampa, Florida.) 

Conference and retreat expenses are fully funded. Participants are expected to attend peer-learning group meetings, read the curriculum material, support and encourage their fellow priests, try some congregational assessment, and come to preaching conferences and retreats. Thanks to the generosity of the Lilly Endowment (at least through 2019), the program is fully funded.

Who is currently involved in this project?

See a list of those who are participating here.


Rev. Michael E. Connors, C.S.C., Director
Dr. Karla J. Bellinger, Associate 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. Mike) or 574-631-2653 (Karla)