Priest reading homilies


We have a new parish priest. He was ordained only 2 years ago, and we might be his first parish experience (he’s a Franciscan). English is not his first language. It’s probably not even his second language. :wink:

He’s been reading his homilies in English for about 2 months now. At first, I thought he might do it just at the beginning until he gained confidence, but now I’m wondering if he is going to do this indefinitely. I feel bad complaining, but I find it very difficult to pay attention.

Have you ever had priests read their homilies on a regular basis? Any suggestions for encouraging him to just try to speak from notes or something?


Plenty of priests write their sermons out in full. Both of ours do. In my experience much preparation goes into these. The Popes have always written theirs.


We had a priest (now deceased, RIP) once who was a gifted homilist and a great writer. He headed the diocesan homiletics continuing education training program for priests and deacons. However, he would read his homily from a prepared text.

Some people aren’t good at memorizing or ad libbing.

Give your priest a break. At least he is trying.

English is not an easy language to master. We have a lot of fresh-from-Mexico priests in our diocese who give two minute homilies when they say Mass in English because they are self-conscious of their English.

Seriously, we faithful are bratty and spoiled. You really see why men don’t want to be priests. They work hard to bring us the sacraments…they write what they believe is a fairly good homily in a language that isn’t their native tongue, and all the faithful do is want to complain.


I don’t see why that’s a problem.


Sigh. I tried to phrase my post in a way that wouldn’t elicit this kind of answer. I should have known better.

If you read through my hundreds of posts in this forum you will see that I am not into bashing priests. There was an honest and sincere question or two behind this.
With no bad intention.

SORRY for asking anything here. I won’t return to this thread. :frowning:


Assuming you do come back and read, I’ll just say that I understand what you’re saying. Whether it’s a homily or some other presentation, few people can read the text and have it sound interesting.

We have a retired priest who sometimes celebrates Sunday Masses. He was fine until he had a small stroke. After that he didn’t feel like he could rely on his memory so he wrote out his homilies and they put me to sleep. He did the same thing in casual settings. If I asked him to come and visit the RCIA folks – and he was a very welcome visitor since he was a holy and wise man – he started to write out his remarks for them. Finally I started inviting him and saying “you don’t have to prepare anything. I just want you to meet them and them to meet you and have a chance for them to ask you some questions.” With him, you just have to accept that this is how things are now.

On the other hand, there’s a parish I visit often and the pastor writes out his homilies. He has good things to say but the presentation just doesn’t work. Since it’s not my parish I wouldn’t feel comfortable approaching him, but I’d love to hear suggestions on how that might be done.

At another parish the priest always starts with a joke. The joke doesn’t have anything to do with the subject of the homily, it’s just a distraction. Again, I wish there was a way to suggest that the homily would be much improved if he started with the actual content and skipped the joke.

Do priests even want to hear about things like this?


I appreciate the OP’s desire to listen to the homily and be interested enough to comment it was difficult to pay attention. Many people don’t seem to care enough to pay attention sadly. I

I myself have been to Masses where English was spoken and very difficult to follow what the priest was saying. I love it they are priests for I am happy to be at Mass. However,
if the homily can’t be understood then you lose something about what the priest was trying to convey. It’s not complaining simply stating a fact.

There’s a reason Mass is celebrated in the language of the people; so we can understand the Mass.


As phrased, you offer an annectidote complaining about being bored during the sermon and then asking other people to share their similar gripes. I am not surprised other posters reacted badly

Throwing a temper tantrum over being called out does not really help your case that you were asking a “sincere” question, rather than just complaining.


Yes, there is a parish near me where one of the priests did not speak English well. He read EVERYTHING, including the homilies.

Any suggestions for encouraging him to just try to speak from notes or something?

My suggestion would be not to say anything. In the grand scheme of things, a read homily is better than just a few brief words (however many he may be comfortable with) or a homily in his first language which you may not understand at all.


Actually you should have known better.


**Don’t even suggest anything to him. You would be totally out of place. When he is ready to speak from notes, he will do so.

****Do you not have any empathy? Have you ever tried to communicate in a foreign language? I’m sure you would have found it difficult for some time, and, even when you started to speak more fluently, it would have been difficult to develop a speech (isn’t that what a homily is?) and give it, even with notes. Learning to communicate well in a foreign language is not easy for most people, and requires years to become comfortable with it.

Open your mind and heart to hearing what he has to say, and just let the Holy Spirit lead you.


Our eyes lead us astray, perhaps especially at mass. Now, thus may be only me, but I rather like to close my eyes and simply listen to him. If I do focus on something at mass, it is usually the Tabernacle, as our Lord is there, but His words come from the pulpit or ambo. Mass is a form of holy hour, as the Lord is present and we are there to adore Him.


We had a priest a few years ago that read his homilies at every Mass.

English was his first language, so that wasn’t the issue.

The issue was it took him at least 5 solid minutes to unfold it. The crackling in the microphone was insane!!!

Great homilies though. I just wonder if they were folded into origami ducks or something. :stuck_out_tongue:


Yes. We have had several priests from India, some of whom have had trouble with English. When they read their homilies, it was dry and emotionless. However, the more they engaged in conversations with others, the more comfortable they became with the language and their homilies were read with more “feeling” and “emotion”. One even started just using notes (or maybe an outline?) instead of writing it all down.

Then again, our deacon (a native Texan) writes out his homilies and they can be a little taxing to listen to when I’m tired from working all night. The one time he “winged it”, it was AWESOME and much more engaging!!! I told him after that Mass that day that although I usually like his homilies, I LOVED his homily that day (hoping to encourage him to step out of his comfort zone again.


Our pastor came to our parish 25 years ago. His homilies at that time were well-prepared, and usually delivered from the front of the altar - no notes. His messages were easily grasped, as he used many examples from everyday - life situations. But he found that a lot of people remembered the examples first and the message second - maybe. Now his homilies are written out and read, usually at least five pages long, and profound - you really have to listen! I think the homilist has to know his audience, and then develop appropriate technique.


LOL! An Origami homily that you unfold; now that is truly unique!


And why is your problem the dear priests? Thank God that you have a priest. Many parishes have closed doors because there is no priest. Better one reading their homily than one who stumbles and loses their train of thought. Have mercy and pray for him. Have seen priests leave parishes in pain because of complainers. Extend the mercy we ask our Lord to have for us.


The OP said they were done with this thread, so why must the bashing continue? They made a mistake starting this thread… just let it go.


Ever notice how many views a thread has? Several times more than there are posts. On CAF, we are often posting for the lurkers rather than back to the OP.


I can understand posting answers or comments that are helpful to others that might be in a similar situation, but to continue to take the OP to task when they’ve already admitted they shouldn’t have started the thread is uncharitable.

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