Aquinas Institute of Theology's Academic Dean, Gregory Heille, O.P., was recently welcomed by The University of Notre Dame as a keynote speaker at their June 25-27, 2014 Conference, entitled All The World: Preaching and the New Evangelization. Notre Dame has offered The John S. Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgics since 1983, with the purpose of supporting and enhancing Roman Catholic preaching and liturgical celebration, and this program sponsors lectures, conferences, courses and workshops for Catholic seminarians, lay ministry students, priests and deacons.
Fr. Heille explained that "the new evangelization" is a phrase coined by Pope John Paul II when he visited Haiti to anticipate the 500-year anniversary of Christian evangelization in America in 1992 - an expression which follows upon Pope Paul VI's earlier expression "evangelization of culture."
"My keynote lecture on 'The Preaching of Pope Francis' examined the Pope's very articulate views on preaching in his recent apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel-with particular attention to the call by Pope Francis to all of us, by virtue of our baptism, to see ourselves as sent to be 'missionary disciples and evangelists', proclaiming the joy of the Gospel with our lives at home, at work, and in society," said Fr. Heille.
Fr. Heille was honored to share the stage with several other notable speakers, including former Master of the Dominican Order Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., who spoke about the beauty of Christian doctrine; Hispanic theologian Fr. Virgilio Elizondo from the University of Notre Dame, who spoke about Our Lady of Guadalupe as an image of the new evangelization; African American theologian Sr. Jamie Phelps, O.P, who spoke about preaching in an intercultural society; and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Archbishop of Washington D.C., who gave a bishop's perspective on the New Evangelization. Also, Archbishop Donald Kurtz of Louisville, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, preached at Notre Dame's Sacred Heart Basilica on the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
Approximately 200 people attended the Conference, including some 50 Dominican men and women and 20 alumni of Aquinas Institute's Doctor of Ministry in Preaching and Preaching Institute programs.
"As I spoke about the preaching of Pope Francis and his call for all of us to be evangelists, you could have heard a pin drop in the hall," said Fr. Heille. "People are riveted by the authenticity of Pope Francis's message and person. Our pope truly communicates the joy of the Gospel: He walks his talk."
Fr. Heille has previously served as a panelist at the Conference, but this was his first experience as a keynote speaker at the annual event. When not serving Aquinas Institute as Academic Dean, or attending and presenting at various conferences such as this one, he is busy writing a book on the preaching of Pope Francis to be published by Liturgical Press in 2015.