Preaching – memorable, thought-provoking, faith-building preaching – can transform lives. The Order of Preachers, which sponsors Aquinas Institute, knows the importance of good preaching and works passionately to provide it.
Research, academics and enthusiasm for great preaching are part of the mix.
Aquinas Institute of Theology won a $70,000 grant this year to develop courses to better prepare preachers to interpret the Bible and effectively use Scripture when they preach. The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion awarded the school the grant. The goal, according to Fr. Gregory Heille, O.P., director of the school’s Doctor of Ministry in Preaching program, is to equip preachers with a greater knowledge of the Bible and help them bring the text into conversation about contemporary life.
The school is in pursuit of a second grant as well. Aquinas Institute hopes to work with the Colloquium on Violence & Religion to sponsor an academic symposium and co-edit a book on preaching in a violent world.
Five of the six most recent graduates in the Doctor of Ministry in Preaching program – the only program of its kind in the country – have had their research theses published. They tackled topics such as thematic preaching and how preachers and hearers form each other. Other graduates whose work has been published researched topics such as preaching with children, preaching in the Holy Land, and multi-generational preaching.
The school also offers a master’s degree with an emphasis in preaching and a Summer Preaching Institute that attracts nationally known lecturers. The institute has drawn as many as 80 preachers to St. Louis each summer.
Beyond academics, Aquinas Institute encourages great preaching through an annual award that celebrates it. The Great Preacher Award, entering its 10th year in 2004, recognizes a preacher whose leadership has made the Catholic community stronger. Recipients have included a cardinal, bishops, a Dominican sister, a campus minister, and parish priests who inspire their congregations.
Through the school’s continued efforts to call attention to the importance of preaching and train great preachers, more Catholics every week will continue to find the meaning and the hope to lead them through the next 167 hours – and the lifetime beyond.