Unprofessional Preachers The Problem

UCA News columnist Fr William Grimm offers some commentary on the preaching guidelines from the Mumbai archdiocese that netted a few comments here earlier this week. Fr Grimm offers a frank, one-word diagnosis: unprofessionalism.

A preacher must know the needs (note: needs, not wants) of the faith community served Fr Grimm asserts. Too many do not:

This is one of the most mystifying things about preachers. The number who seem to have no idea of the people before whom they stand is staggering. A congregation is not an abstraction, but real people with experiences, concerns and hopes. Poor preachers talk about their own needs, their own hang-ups, their own idea of what the congregation’s concerns should be or abstract gobbledygook.

How many preachers mine their own personal experiences for homily material? I can’t say I’ve really found that approach very edifying. On occasion, a good storyteller can draw in a group with an entertaining personal experience. Maybe I’m different from most Catholics. I don’t really want to hear a priest’s life story from the pulpit. Maybe over a dinner or a coffee or a beer.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Unprofessional Preachers The Problem

  1. Liam says:

    “I don’t really want to hear a priest’s life story from the pulpit.”

    Seventy times seven, Amen!

    I especially do not want to hear (i) how the priest found the homiletic texts for the day difficult, uninspiring, et cet., or (ii) how a priest came up with his homiletic theme or approach (usually a demonstration of brilliance, cleverness, or dereliction).

  2. FrMichael says:

    “I don’t really want to hear a priest’s life story from the pulpit.”

    Amen. And I don’t want to tell it either, except in minute parts. If somebody wants to know my life story, we can share a beer together.

  3. Fran says:

    I have heard priests use short anecdotes that are helpful, but most of the time the “life story” is not good.

    Good preaching is a gift, I am lucky to work in one parish and worship in another where we are well fed in this way.

  4. Sam Schmitt says:

    On the other hand, I don’t want to hear my own life story either – how much of a problem I have forgiving people, how weighed down I am with doubt, how I really don’t accept all the Church’s teachings (but that’s “OK” anyway), etc.

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