Homily delivered by a lay person


Are lay pastoral leaders allowed to deliver homilies during Mass?

No. Are you certain it was a ‘homily’, though? Or was it that they simply got up (at the invitation of the pastor, one assumes) and spoke on a subject such that it wasn’t a ‘homily’?

Although I did not witness the event, the person who told me this said that twice, during her attendance at the regular Sunday parish Mass, after the priest had proclaimed the Holy Gospel, he sat and a lay person delivered the homily.

I’m absolutely sure that the bishop had allowed this and I wish to complain to him. I do not have enough knowledge about canon law and other church documents to support me, so I’m hoping the wider community in this forum will be able to point me to the right documents.

Only a priest or deacon can preach the homily. It is in the GIRM.

Many thanks to you all who have responded. May God bless you always.

It does seem to be occurring from time to time at least at a local Catholic Church here where a woman gave a talk about how the Catholic Church had discriminated against women for 2000 years and continues to do so by denying women the right to be ordained as priests.
Also, in another case, the priest was not available for Mass, and a woman said what is called a communion service. She gave a small talk (I don’t know if it counts as a homily) in that case, but it was not a Mass.

Was it considered a homily? Sometimes a lay person will be allowed to talk apart from the homily. Nothing really new anyway. The liberals have been whining about that from time to time since Vatican II. At least she correctly alludes to the fact that the Catholic Church has been there from the beginning. She’s a protestant but she’s a catholic protestant. :slight_smile:

Possibly not.

I am pretty sure that only a priest or deacon can actually give a homily.

A couple times a year, a nun comes to my parish give a talk about their cause after the reading of the gospel and ask for donations. These are usually for retired clergy or missions, but, they tie in the scripture reading to help drive the point home. I am not sure if a layman can do something similar, though. This talk takes the place of the homily, but the priest still consecrates the host.

Only the Ordained can give a homily.
However, if the priest gives a homily first - even a very brief one - in some dioceses, a lay man or lay woman may be permitted to give a “reflection.” This sometimes happens when missionaries are in town making an appeal. But this is not a homily.

Likewise, in the case of the Communion Service, the lay person has the authority to lead the service provided a priest or deacon are not present but she did not give a homily (because no woman can give a homily, only ordained men) - she gave a “reflection.” In many dioceses, there is an emerging vocation to Lay Ecclesial Ministry (LEM). The people answering this call to serve the Church are being trained to be Pastoral Associates, DRE’s, and Hospital Chaplains/Ministers of Care. The training usually consists of 3 years of human, spiritual and intellectual formation along with earning a Master’s degree in a theological field. So we should be seeing many LEM’s who are educated enough to know how to lead prayer and where the boundary line is as far as what they are permitted to do and what is specifically the realm of the ordained.

I’ve seen it twice, someone other than a priest or deacon giving the homily. It was the homily, that is, after the Gospel, and with no homily by the priest.

First time, the speaker was a Protestant minister (a woman). It actually was a decent homily that ties the three readings together, but that’s beside the point.

Second time, it was a woman who identified as a member of a “progressive” Catholic group.

After that I never went back.

Probably a good idea not to go back because you may not have been in a Catholic Church??? Truly, no one but the ordained Catholic priest or deacon can give a homily during a Catholic Mass. As I said, it is possible for the priest to give a very short 1 minute homily and then let someone else “reflect” . . .but your experiences would have scared me too!

Thanks for the reply.

Just so there’s no doubt, I was in a Catholic Church, one that clearly identifies and promotes itself as such.

I went there for a short period because it happens to be close to where I work and I could get there easily for the Saturday night Mass.

After the second incident, I found someplace else to attend Mass where this isn’t done.

I’m glad you found another parish that is celebrating the Holy Mass in union with the Universal Church and not making up their own rubrics like that odd one you left!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!

And the same to you and yours.

Looking forward to tomorrow, attending the early evening Mass. That leaves Christmas morning free to listen to the EWTN Mass, as EWTN is carried on free radio in my town.

Brief announcements may be made during the liturgy at the appropriate place: after the Post-Communion prayer and before the final blessing. Announcements given during this period do not constitute a homily, but the announcements may be delivered by anyone, even a non-Catholic.

The homily occurs after the proclamation of the Gospel and before the Creed (Sundays and solemnities) or General Intercessions (weekdays). Only an ordained minister may give a homily. If you see someone else attempting to give a “reflection” or exhortation or talk or announcements during this period, you have an abuse that should be investigated. Even if an ordained minister has given a homily and then he cedes the floor to someone else, this is still the appointed time for a homily only, not announcements, which are properly delivered after the Post-Communion prayer only.

Just as a clarification, only a priest can be a Hospital Chaplain, or a chaplain in general, per Canon Law. It gets confusing because in some hospitals people are designated as “chaplains” by the hospital, but not by the Church. Yes, they do good work in their role.
Becoming a priest, sister, deacon, or for that matter, a wife or husband, is a “vocation”.
It’s for life.
The training as part of becoming an LEM may boost one’s qualifications in a given lay apostolate - to health care, education, and other. There are other ways you might get the same training. That’s an important distinction, an LEM isn’t a “vocation”. It’s not a state of life.

I should have clarified that lay people can be commissioned to serve on behalf of a diocese as Health Care Ministers in hospitals. Secular hospitals may call them Chaplains but of course, they cannot administer the Anointing of the Sick or hear Confessions or perform any function solely reserved for a Priest.

However, Lay Ecclesial Ministry is a vocation and programs for discernment, training and formation of LEM’s are developing worldwide in response to the call lay people are receiving from God to give their lives in service to the Church in roles such as PA, DRE, Health Care Minister, Campus Minister (at a University), and Director of Adult Faith Formation. These roles are not vocations but functions in ministry, but the call to lifelong service of the Church and God’s people as a LEM is a vocation and is for life. It includes intense human, spiritual, pastoral and intellectual training and discernment as well as ongoing formation, commitment, and commissioning & sending by the local Bishop to a particular parish. So one has a vocation to Lay Ecclesial Ministry and might then serve in a hospital as a Health Care Minister or at a parish as DRE.

In Chicago, Francis Cardinal George has been at the forefront of helping people to understand the vocation calls of the laity and has been committed to supporting the vocation of LEM as is Archbishop Cupich. In Arch Chicago, the job titles of PA and DRE are regulated to be used only by those who are Lay Ecclesial Ministers. As you said, there may be other ways to get training for certain jobs, but Lay Ecclesial Ministry is not a job in and of itself – it is the vocation.

I fear we may be taking this thread way off track . . . . .

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