Fr. David Scotchie's earliest interests in preaching began when he first considered the priesthood as his vocation. In high school, he heard a priest from Duke University speak on the apartheid system of racial segregation in South Africa, and he was impressed by the way he preached and the power of that preaching—the priest was a kind of apostolic witness. Fr. David was inspired to imitate such witness in his writing and preaching, and his joy for this kind of witness helped him to choose the DMin program at Aquinas Institute of Theology.
Fr. David is the pastor of Nativity Catholic Church in the Diocese of Orlando. He studied in the Doctor of Ministry in Preaching program at Aquinas Institute from 2004-2009. Initially hearing about the degree program, from Aquinas Alumnus, Deacon Marshall Gibbs of St. Mary Magdalene Parish, Fr. David saw the program as an opportunity to better serve the church through the spoken word.
Using his experiences from Aquinas, Fr. David ministers by teaching homiletics for men in formation to the permanent diaconate. His work not only takes place in Orlando, but it brings him to places like St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana.
Coming to Aquinas, Fr. David found a school that expanded his mind and heart. He learned to apply theology, preaching, and spirituality more profoundly. He got to explore scripture critically and came to appreciate the prayer practice of Lectio Divina. It was here where he also was taught how to “exegete the assembly,” the process of being aware and immersed in the local church or parish to understand their particular contexts.
“I can listen to the Word of God, listen to the church, to prepare myself for preaching,” he says.
Preaching has brought Fr. David challenges and rewards. The “eternal challenge” is time and preparation—preaching requires practical reasoning and organization. The joy of preaching is apparent for him when people approach him after mass and compliment his homily, telling him how inspiring and insightful they are. He’ll often hear them say, “I hadn’t thought about that before.” These kinds of remarks make him happy to see how he is able to help people in their spiritual lives. For Fr. David, preaching has become a spiritual habit that forms his ministry and life.
“The spirituality of the parish priest is preaching, and it’s essential to what I do,” he says. “Preaching becomes the place where God is made present to himself and to his listeners.”
*Written by Andrew Morales, a current student in the Master of Arts in Theology program at Aquinas. He recently spoke by phone with Fr. David, the pastor at his hometown parish in Longwood, Florida*