Deborah Ruth Zeni MD D.Min.
This thesis research work on best practices of preaching arose out of the researcher’s passion for providing catechists with the means of nurturing a ‘falling-in-love’ with God experience for young children through proclaiming gospel as encounter.
Based on evidence that catechists lack formation in best practices of preaching, the researcher designed and implemented an educational initiative in a multi-site, multi-participant intensive formation program. The researcher used a homiletic grounded in the Paschal Mystery, which located God’s gratuitous and gracious actions on humanity’s behalf as the focus of preaching—giving gospel-power—to any form of preaching carried out during the study.
Within a unique form of pastoral ministry called the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS), employing a qualitative methodology, a constructivist epistemology, and a field-based action research design, the researcher effectively utilized various educational approaches to develop and assess participant competence in preaching using a comprehensive assessment program, and iteratively improving their learning and teaching preaching praxis using program evaluation tools.
The research shows that the curriculum successfully demonstrated that the comprehensive preaching model, which integrated five best practices of preaching for proclaiming the Word with children into the study’s conceptual framework, worked to develop the competence of catechists as preachers of the Good News. Additionally, the research showed that the intervention enabled and empowered the participants to find their preaching voice to speak of God acting mercifully, giving everything, loving unconditionally in the here and now as they experienced God doing in the scriptures.
As such, five best practices of preaching can be used as an effective framework for formation of catechists and educators for teaching preaching as encounter with children and sharing in a happening of grace through the proclamation of the Word.