Reflections from 2016 Festival

Highlights from Festival of Young Preachers

It was the seventh annual National Festival of Young Preachers, but the first time representatives from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary attended.

“It was unlike anything I expected. It was a truly ‘trans-denominational gathering,’ where Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Orthodox and Pentecostals came together for preaching, worship, prayer, education and fellowship,” said Deacon Dave Shea, Athenaeum professor of homiletics. “The common denominator of all festival attendees was a passion for the Gospel, a love for the Lord and a commitment to share that passion and love in our preaching.”

Deacon Shea, and two Mount St. Mary’s seminarians, Deacon Thomas Reagan and Andrew Wellman, were able to participate in the festival activities thanks to a grant by the Dennis and Lois A. Doyle Family Foundation. The Mount St. Mary’s trio was among nine Catholics, out of 122 who attended the festival from January 2-5.

“We heard sermons (homilies) from 122 young preachers. It was an inspiring experience as these young people, our Andrew and Deacon Thomas among them, preached uplifting, hopeful and challenging sermons,” Deacon Shea explained. “The prayer and the music were wonderful.”

As part of the festival, 15 local churches of all denominations opened their pulpits to young preachers. Deacon Reagan was the guest preacher at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in downtown Lexington on Sunday morning (January 3). Six Catholic festival participants from the University of Notre Dame and several others of different denominations came to support Deacon Thomas and experience Catholic Mass. After Mass, the group enjoyed lunch with the pastor and representatives of the parish.

On Sunday evening, the festival participants gathered at Broadway Christian Church for an event sponsored by the Athenaeum. Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, was the plenary preacher. Mr. Wellman proclaimed the Scripture. The evening was unexpectedly capped-off by the recording of a special video message to Pope Francis thanking him for his prayers, commending him for being a great preacher; and asking him for his support in hosting a first-ever international festival of young preachers in Rome.

On Monday, a group of participants went to the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd to participate in the Festival’s “First Parish Preachers Event.” Fifteen young preachers, including Mr. Wellman, preached in the Church’s pulpit in the daylong program which concluded with a preachers’ forum and discussion about the challenges of preaching to today’s diverse congregations.

“Overall, it was a terrific experience. My Master Class titled: ‘Entertain, or else – Attending to the Delight Element in St. Augustine’s Trilogy of Teach, Delight and Persuade’ was very well-attended and fun to conduct,” noted Deacon Shea. “I thought Deacon Thomas and Andrew did a terrific job preaching. And I am most grateful to Dennis and Lois Doyle for their generosity in making it possible for us to attend this year’s festival.”

Click the following link to see a photo gallery from the event

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