Our Mission and Vision
Our focus is to pair homiletics and evangelization, trusting that incremental growth in the improvement of preaching can result in exponential growth in the renewal of the Church.
We are positioned to take a leadership role in meeting the homiletic needs of the Church in order to improve Catholic preaching.
In her book, Connecting Pulpit and Pew: Breaking Open the Conversation about Catholic Preaching, Dr. Karla J. Bellinger says effective preaching arises out of a homilist’s spiritual life. She says that if preachers have a profound relationship with Jesus and have given their life to serving God, it comes across in what they say. She notes, also, that the responsibility for an encounter with God through the medium of preaching also involves the receptivity of the listener.
“Listeners hunger for inspiration,” says Bellinger. “People in the pews want to hear a message that gives them life. Clergy thirst for their congregation to encounter Jesus Christ and want to inspire them and see the fruit of a Christian life.”
In describing her one-on-one coaching of almost 100 preachers - bishops, priests and deacons - at the John S. Marten Program for Homiletics and Liturgics at the University of Notre Dame, she often set this challenge before them as they were working on their Sunday homily: “I hope to help you to do well with your homilies, but even more, I hope that your homilies will help your people get an A in life.
“So many people have given up on preaching as a tool of evangelization. We can’t give up. The value of the liturgy is that it’s not just the body of Christ that fuels us. It’s the music. It’s the community. It’s the preaching,” she adds. “The purpose of the liturgy is to bring people to God together as a community and then help them to go out and change the world for the better.
“The holiness and skill of the preacher and the receptivity of the people have to go together if we are to renew the Church,” says Bellinger.
“There is no greater joy for a preacher than for him to hear, ‘You helped me find God. And that has made all the difference in my life.’ Let us see what we can do to help that to happen more often.”
KARLA BELLINGER — FOUNDING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Dr. Karla J. Bellinger has a passion for God and for preaching. In launching the Institute, she brings a vision of what effective preaching can do for the renewal of the Church and the renewal of faith. Homiletics and evangelization belong together.
Bellinger is the current president of the Catholic Association of Teachers of Homiletics (CATH). Before being tapped to found the Institute for Homiletics, she was the Associate Director of the John S. Marten Program for Homiletics and Liturgics at the University of Notre Dame. She earned her doctorate in preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology and her master’s degree in systematic theology from the University of Notre Dame. She also has a BS in forestry from North Carolina State University. She and her husband Daniel are the parents of five adult children with nine grandchildren. When not working on homiletics, she can be found digging and planting in her large organic garden.
Karla is the author of Connecting Pulpit and Pew: Breaking Open the Conversation about Catholic Preaching from Liturgical Press and co-author of Remembering Why We Preach from Ave Maria Press. Her lectionary reflections for year A can be found here.