The Dominican Preaching Network—a collaboration of three Dominican schools of preaching in the United States, Germany, and the Philippines—convened twenty-seven scholars and practitioners of preaching from March 11–14, 2024, to reflect on the guiding principle of “a synodal Church in mission” through the lens of lay Eucharistic preaching. Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters Barbara Reid, OP,  and Megan McElroy, OP, participated in a Dominican Preaching Network preaching Symposium the week of March 11-15 in St. Louis, Missouri at the Aquinas Institute of Theology.

“We are very excited about the work we accomplished,” said Sr. Megan McElroy.

That work resulted in a proposal to change 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.

“Connecting Lay Preaching at the Eucharist to Synodality and Mission”, part 1 of the proposal, described their work:

“The Dominican Preaching Network—a collaboration of three Dominican schools of preaching in the United States, Germany, and the Philippines—convened twenty-seven scholars and practitioners of preaching from March 11–14, 2024, to reflect on the guiding principle of “a synodal Church in mission” through the lens of lay Eucharistic preaching. We conducted our work attending to synodal documents, specifically commissioned scholarly papers, listening and discussion sessions, panel presentations, and thematic analysis, all situated within a synodal listening process. We prayed together. We asked the Spirit’s help. As a community, we now share the fruits of our discernment and submit them for further discernment by the Synod in October 2024 and the Synod’s study group on “theological and canonical questions concerning specific forms of ministries.

Many lay ecclesial ministers discern a call from God and receive theological and ministerial training and formation to preach. Canon law permits lay preaching and yet restricts lay ecclesial ministers from receiving an ecclesial commission to preach the homily at Mass. We gathered as a group of theologians, ecclesiologists, preachers, and a canonist to consider this obstacle to lay preaching at Mass. Responding to the Synod’s question about our Catholic identity as a synodal Church in mission, we now offer a constructive homiletic and ecclesiological appeal to charge or commission a more extensive and diverse pool of qualified lay preachers and evangelists to preach the Word of God at the Eucharist.”

A news release published April 5, 2024, by Greg Heille, OP, and the Aquinas Institute of Theology stated:

During the symposium, 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.