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Homiletics

Pope Benedict XVI highlights the role of the homily in the sacred liturgy: “Given the importance of the word of God, the quality of homilies needs to be improved. The homily is ‘part of the liturgical action,’ and is meant to foster a deeper understanding of the word of God, so that it can bear fruit in the lives of the faithful. Hence, ordained ministers must ‘prepare the homily carefully, based on an adequate knowledge of Sacred Scripture.’ Generic and abstract homilies should be avoided. In particular, I ask these ministers to preach in such a way that the homily closely relates the proclamation of the word of God to the sacramental celebration and the life of the community, so that the word of God truly becomes the Church’s vital nourishment and support. The catechetical and paraenetic aim of the homily should not be forgotten. During the course of the liturgical year it is appropriate to offer the faithful, prudently and on the basis of the three-year lectionary, ‘thematic’ homilies treating the great themes of the Christian faith, on the basis of what has been authoritatively proposed by the Magisterium in the four ‘pillars’ of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the recent Compendium, namely: the profession of faith, the celebration of the Christian mystery, life in Christ and Christian prayer (n. 46).”
This statement articulates the goal of Saint Vincent Seminary’s homiletics program. We strive to prepare men to be effective preachers by offering the following resources to our Seminarians:

  • Three courses devoted to homiletics
  • A Chair devoted to the teaching of Biblical Theology and Homiletics
  • Formation conferences covering rhetoric and communication skills.
  • The integration of homiletics across the Seminary curriculum.
  • An annual lecture on biblical theology by the Chair-holder.
  • Regular parish preaching opportunities for the fourth-year deacons.

The Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology and Homiletics for Excellence in Preaching was established to realize three purposes, all of which address Pope Benedict XVI’s call for more effective preaching.

The first goal is to help seminarians grasp the mysteries of the Catholic faith contained in the word of God and celebrated in the Church’s liturgy. Toward this end, in the Bible and Liturgy course, seminarians learn how the lectionary is structured for the liturgical year according to various biblical typologies, so that they might better understand and explain to the faithful how “the New Testament [lays] hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 129).”

The second goal is to provide opportunities for seminarians to acquire the skills and practices necessary to preach the lectionary and the liturgical rites of the Church. They do this in the Homiletics I and II courses. Regular faculty members, especially the homiletics professor, provide seminarians with opportunities to develop and refine their skills for effective homily preparation and delivery, catechetical instruction, and evangelization.

The third goal is to assist alumni and those already ordained to improve their preaching skills. For this purpose, an annual summer symposium has been held on the Saint Vincent campus since 2006. The afternoon session of the symposium is devoted specifically to a preaching workshop, where presenters offer to the symposium attendees practical tips for effective preaching.

Other Special Programs
Continuing Education for Clergy and Laypersons

The Seminary welcomes students interested in taking classes on a continuing education basis to deepen their understanding of the Christian life and faith. We provide opportunities for continuing education in Sacred Scripture, Spirituality, Systematic Theology, Church History, and Monastic Studies. Those enrolled as continuing education students normally possess a bachelor’s degree and the necessary background for the courses they wish to take. The Academic Dean admits continuing education students into the courses. Students pay the regular tuition rate unless they audit the courses. Because some courses are designated for seminarians only, all lay students enrolling in Seminary courses must receive permission from the Academic Dean to register for courses.

 

Hispanic Ministries

Our priesthood candidates may take advantage of electives that offer them special training to serve a growing Hispanic population. People of Hispanic origin and culture constitute one of the most rapidly growing segments of the United States population. The Seminary seeks to provide well-trained ministers for this growing population, following the practical insight of its founder, Father Boniface Wimmer, who argued in the 1840s that, by offering a second language to priesthood students, a bishop would be ordaining two priests instead of one.

The Hispanic Ministries Program is designed to prepare a student who is engaged in the normal course of studies to learn Spanish or gain/add proficiency in the language and study Hispanic history and culture. An intensive summer immersion experience is an essential part of the Seminary’s goal to prepare men for Hispanic Ministries in the United States. Deacon and priesthood preparation labs for ministering to Hispanic communities are also offered. For details of the program, please contact the Director of Hispanic Ministries.

Lay Formation While the Seminary is first and foremost focused on priestly formation, our academic program is also open to qualified men and women seeking a theological education. The Code of Canon Law recognizes the right of lay persons “to acquire that deeper knowledge of the sacred sciences... by obtaining academic degrees” (c. 229.2). Programs developed to serve the needs of lay students and the sharing of existing programs are arranged both to preserve the integrity of the Ordination Program and to assist lay persons in preparing for service in the Church.


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