Monday, October 12, 2009

In Consideration of Preaching the Word of God

This past week, the clergy of the Archdiocese gathered together in Moose Jaw from Monday to Thursday to reflect on their ministry of preaching. The leader of this reflection was Fr. Gregory Heille, a Dominican Priest who is Professor of Homiletics and Academic Dean at the Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis, Missouri.
This week was put together by Fr. Lorne Crozon, the Arcdiocesan Director of Organization and Development with the collaboration of the Ministry to Priests Team. Fr. Lorne is on the left and Fr. Greg on the right.

Here is Fr. Jose Periyilkatte of St. Joseph Parish in Oxbow and Fr. Sathiadas Antony of Christ the Redeemer Parish in Swift Current. The priests of the Archdiocese came together with Fr. Heille to deepen their skills in preaching the homily at Mass. The homily is part of the Liturgy itself and by it "the mysteries of the faith and the guiding principles of the Christian life are expounded from the sacred text, during the course of the liturgical year." as we are told in the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican II.

Fr. Heille emphasized that the homily needs to be approached through prayerful contemplation of the Word of God, of which Lection Divina is one approach. Then "study" of the text follows to seek its meaning and how it relates to the experience of our people and then finally the homily itself is prepared.
Around the table is Fr. Firmo, Fr. Cereno, Fr. Bruno, Fr. Seville and Fr. Jiminez.

As the Sacred Liturgy is the summit and source of our Christian life, so also is the Word of God in the Liturgy of the Word. The Word of God reaches down and out so that it may take root in all aspects of what is happening in the parish community. When this happens, wherever you go in the parish community you will see reflected the whole life of the Church. To describe this reality, Fr. Heille spoke of a "fractal", which was a new scientific word for most of us. But when a fractal is divided, each piece is a small copy of the whole thing. I am going to escape quickly from this scientific topic but I will use a church example: in the RCIA process we see the whole church at work, priest and community evangelizing, bringing to birth in faith through the sacraments, all done in reflection and response to the living Word of God among us. In this and other examples, the Word of God becomes the source and summit of our Catholic Christian way of life. Something to think about.

Fr. Heille also spoke of the challenge to preach to our people across the generations. For example we have in our churches people from four different generations, e.g. the Baby Boomers, Generation X, the Millennial Generation and the present unnamed generation. Each of these generations have different characteristics as anyone with children and grand-children knows.
We have at least a couple of these generations in the priests around the table above. Fr. Francis Hengen, Fr. Denis Remot, Fr. Gerry Bauche and Fr. JR Prince.

In all our gatherings the celebration of the Eucharist is an important part of our day. Concelebrating with me are Msgr. Don Bolen, VG and Fr. Carlos Jiminez of Church of Our Lady, Moose Jaw. Assisting with the Sacramentary is Fr. James Owolagba of Gull Lake.

And the priests themselves provided for the Music Ministry for the Eucharist. Fr. Steven Bill is at the keyboard and behind him Fr. Rick Krofche, Fr. Neil Osiowy, Fr Tonny Dizy, Fr. Thomas Nguyen, Fr. John Weckend, Fr. JR Prince and Fr. Gerry Bauche.

All the priests of the Archdiocese came together on Wednesday for a celebration of the Eucharist at St. Joseph's and a picture for the Centennial History Book.

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