Karla J. Bellinger, MA, DMIN, has been appointed Founding Executive Director of the Institute for Homiletics at the University of Dallas, located in Irving TX, with the aim of improving preaching in the Catholic Church. The Institute is a collaboration of the Catholic Foundation and the University of Dallas.
In his new role, effective immediately, Bellinger will work to strengthen the preaching of Catholic priests, deacons and seminarians so that they flourish in their ministry of the Word. Beginning with the Diocese of Dallas, then extending to the Church at large, the Institute will build a vision of preaching whose purpose is to bring the people of God to an encounter with the living God.
The Institute will combine homiletics and evangelization, for a gradual growth in the improvement of preaching can lead to an exponential growth in the renewal of the Church.
Bellinger was recently Associate Director of the John S. Marten Program for Homiletics and Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame. She is the current vice-president and rising president (2022) of the Catholic Association of Professors of Homiletics (CATH), the professional guild of those who teach preaching.
At 21, Bellinger and her husband, Daniel, joined the Catholic Church when they were students in the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina. A mother of five grown children and five grandchildren, Bellinger pioneered Catholic listening studies, especially with young people, starting with her doctoral thesis Are You Talking to Me? A study of the connection of young listeners with Catholic Sunday preaching. Bellinger is also a Certified Lay Church Minister in the Diocese of Cleveland, where she served for many years. Bellinger is also the author of Reflection for the publication’s current three-year liturgical cycle, Living the Word, published by GIA Publications.
Bellinger received his doctorate in preaching from the Aquinas Theological Institute, an MA in Systematic Theology from the University of Notre Dame, and a BS in Forestry from North Carolina State University. She is a reader and Eucharistic minister at the Parish of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Niles, Michigan, in the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo. She also serves in the same liturgical roles at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre-Dame campus.
“It is vital that we continually strive to improve our preaching in the Catholic Church so that the people of God look upon the Lord not only during Mass, but every day of the week,” said the Bishop Edward J. Burns.
âI am so happy that we are creating the Homiletics Institute in the Diocese of Dallas and grateful to the donors who have contributed funds that make this initiative possible. The extraordinary knowledge and wisdom that Karla has accumulated from knowing how homiletics and evangelism come together provides the Institute with a proven leader, âadds Burns. âThrough her work, with the grace of God, Karla will help our priests and deacons here in the Diocese of Dallas and beyond to improve their preaching in ways that positively transform lives and create deeply rooted encounters with Christ. “
In his book Connecting Pulpit and Pew: Breaking Open the Conversation about Catholic Preaching, Bellinger says that effective preaching stems from the spiritual life of a homilist. She says that if preachers have a deep relationship with Jesus and have given their lives in the service of God, it shows in what they say. She notes, however, that the responsibility of an encounter with God through preaching also involves the receptivity of the listener.
âListeners crave inspiration,â says Bellinger. âPeople in the benches want to hear a message that brings them to life. The clergy thirst for their congregation to meet Jesus Christ and want to inspire them and see the fruit of a Christian life.
Describing her one-on-one coaching of nearly 100 preachers – bishops, priests and deacons – at the John S. Marten Program for Homiletics and Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame, she often posed this challenge to them as they worked. on their Sunday homily: âI hope to help you get an A in your homilies, but more importantly, I hope your homilies will help your people get an A in life.
âSo many people have given up on preaching as a tool of evangelism. We cannot give up. The value of the liturgy is that it is not only the body of Christ that nourishes us. It’s the music. It’s the community. It’s preaching, âshe adds. âThe purpose of the liturgy is to bring people together as a community and to help them come out and change the world for the better.
âThe holiness and skill of the preacher and the receptiveness of the people must go hand in hand if we are to renew the Church,â says Bellinger. âThere is no greater joy for a preacher than to hear, ‘You helped me find God. And that made all the difference in my life. Let’s see what we can do to make this happen more often. “
The Institute for Homiletics will operate in the space provided by the University of Dallas on its Irving campus.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Bellinger to the University of Dallas and we are grateful for our partnership with the Catholic Foundation for the establishment of the Institute for Homiletics at UD,” said the president of the UD, Jonathan J. Sanford, PhD. âWelcoming the Institute as a member of the UD community reflects our desire to support and advance the new evangelization within our diocesan home, and it is perfectly aligned with one of the key pillars of our strategic plan – to deepen our commitment to the Church and the country. “
We hear people on benches all over the country complaining about Catholic preaching. Donors from the Diocese of Dallas have come together to do something and invest in better Catholic preaching.
Funding to support the new institute will come from the Bishop Tschoepe’s Institute for Homiletics and Communication Fund of the Catholic Foundation – created in 1985 – as well as the Catholic Foundation’s Homiletics Fund created by Jim Moroney in 2019 in the aim to create a permanent endowment. which will support the annual operations of the Institute. Currently, including the Bishop Tschoepe Fund, $ 8 million of the $ 10 million goal has been raised. Fundraising continues and the $ 10 million endowment will be a continuing source of funding for the Institute’s annual operations. Permanent funding will allow the executive director to focus on improving preaching rather than constant fundraising.
âThe generous response we have seen from donors will ensure the sustainability of the program,â said Matt Kramer, President and CEO of the Catholic Foundation which manages the funds. âThe creation of the Homiletics Institute and the support of donors for the implementation of the program is a game-changer.
âDonors can make contributions to the Funds anytime and anywhere,â adds Kramer. âWe believe there will be a strong interest among people in becoming donors given the tremendous impact that devotees will feel when they benefit from pulpit messages that not only fuel their faith but help them to go out and proclaim the Church. Gospel of the Lord. “
About the Catholic Foundation
The Catholic Foundation is a vehicle of trust for the Catholic community. Established in 1955, the Foundation was founded by a group of dedicated lay Catholics with a vision that went well beyond the charitable needs of the moment. The Foundation has spent decades building a strong community, helping donors achieve their charitable goals, and preserving the founders’ vision and philanthropic legacy. Over time, the Foundation has awarded more than $ 226 million in grants to religious, charitable and educational organizations. Today, it manages approximately $ 285 million in assets and is home to more than 490 charitable funds and trusts. For more information about the Catholic Foundation, call 972-661-9792 or visit catholicfoundation.com.
About the Diocese of Dallas
The Diocese of Dallas covers an area of ââ7,523 square miles spanning the counties of Dallas, Collin, Ellis, Fannin, Grayson, Hunt, Kaufman, Navarro, and Rockwall. Its 74 parishes and 36 Catholic schools serve approximately 1.2 million Catholics and a larger North Texas community of over four million people. Most Reverend Edward J. Burns is the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Dallas. He is assisted by Monsignor Greg Kelly who serves as auxiliary bishop. The Diocese of Dallas was established in 1890 and once spanned an area of ââ120,000 square miles. Over time, the Dioceses of El Paso, Lubbock, Amarillo, Tyler and Fort Worth were carved out of the Diocese of Dallas.
About the University of Dallas
Located in one of the largest and fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States, the University of Dallas is a nationally recognized Catholic liberal arts university with campuses in Irving, Texas. , and Rome, Italy. Known for the academic rigor of its core undergraduate program, rooted in the great works of Western civilization and Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of Dallas also offers flexible graduate degrees in Commerce, Liberal Arts. and in ministry, all taught by exceptional and dedicated teachers. in pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue. For more information, visit udallas.edu.