Preaching Workshop Held for Friars

David McBriar, OFM Around the Province

TAMPA, Fla. — Dr. Thomas Long, professor of preaching at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, began his opening reflection by quoting St. Augustine on preaching. “The aim of preaching,” said Augustine, “is to instruct, delight and persuade.” 

Tom Long did all three for 17 friars at last week’s Preaching Workshop, sponsored by the HNP Evangelization Directorate at the Franciscan Center in Tampa. Several of the friars who intended to travel to the Feb. 8 to 10 workshop were prevented by the snowstorms that had pummeled the MidAtlantic region. The participating friars present represented a wide spectrum of ages and ministries.

One of the friars in his evaluation of the workshop said: “Tom Long was a treasure.” That was a sentiment shared by all of us friars. Tom, an ordained Presbyterian minister, has published a number of books, including The Witness of Preaching (2005), Preaching From Memory to Hope (2009), and Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral (2009). 

Tom opened up for us some directions that set the stage for conversations. “What are the issues we face today as preachers?” “What are the challenges?” “What do we mean by ‘narrative’ preaching?” “What is ‘imaginative’ preaching?” 

A highlight of the workshop was the preaching at Evening and Morning Prayer, as well as at the Eucharist. Steven Patti, OFM, Russell Becker, OFM, and Long preached at these services. We then had the opportunity to discuss each of their homilies. We asked such questions as: “Was it uplifting?” “How was it thought provoking?” “Was it imaginative?” “What one image did you get?” “What was the one line you carried away?” “Was it evangelizing?” “Did it invite you to deeper discipleship?” “Was it in some way Franciscan?”

In the evaluations submitted by the friars about this first preaching workshop offered by the Province, suggestions ranged from “It was too short,” to “make this available to more friars.”

The Evangelization Directorate is committed to supporting the Province’s mandate to provide resources for all the friars in evangelizing. If you have any suggestions or recommendations for us, by all means, let the directorate know.

— Fr. David, shown in the photo above, is co-chair of the HNP Evangelization Directorate. He can be reached at 
 St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh, N.C.