Lay Catholic Preaching at the Eucharist

A Proposal to the Synod on Synodality Ministries Study Group

St. Louis – Twenty-seven preachers and theologians from North America, Europe, and Asia met at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis this March 11–14 for a synodal symposium on “The Pastoral Charge for Lay Catholic Eucharistic Preaching.” The group has formally submitted its recommendations about lay preaching at Mass to the US Bishops and to the Synod on Synodality in Rome and its recently formed study group on “theological and canonical questions concerning specific forms of ministries.”

The symposium participants propose a change in canon law to allow qualified lay preachers to preach the homily at Mass. The group also recommends that the Church expand the instituted ministries of Lector and Catechist or institute a new ministry of Lay Preacher to allow for lay preaching at Mass.

Two scholars presented major papers: Dr. Edward P. Hahnenberg from John Carroll University on the Theology of Ministry for Lay Eucharistic Preaching and Dr. Layla Karst from Loyola Marymount University on Eucharistic Preaching in a Synodal Church. Respondents included Dr. Nathan Chase from Aquinas Institute of Theology, Dr. Mary Erika Bolaños from the University of Santo Tomas, Dr. Martin Madar from Xavier University, and Dr. Maurice Nutt, CSsR, from Aquinas Institute of Theology. The group prayed together and engaged in listening sessions and panel discussions to contribute a synthesis of its insights to the work of the Synod on Synodality. 

Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis hosted the event, sponsored by the three schools of preaching in the Dominican Preaching Network: Aquinas Institute of Theology in the United States, the Institute for Pastoral Homiletics in Germany, and the Institute of Preaching in the Philippines. Fr. Gregory Heille, OP, Professor of Preaching and Evangelization and Director of the Doctor of Ministry in Preaching at Aquinas Institute of Theology, convened the event with the support of a grant from the Lilly Endowment Initiative to Strengthen Preaching.