I posted about this over on my Patreon page a few weeks back, but wanted the wider world to know about this new chapter in my life, as well. Since I don’t have nearly enough to fill my days — between my job, my marriage, my ministry, my blog and my books — I’m adding something else.

I’ve been invited to be part of the homiletic cohort for a research project being undertaken by Father Ed Foley of the Catholic Theological Union, funded by The John Templeton Foundation.

Here’s the press release:

The John Templeton Foundation has awarded a $220,000 grant to Catholic Theological Union, a graduate school of theology and ministry in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, to explore the ways science and the contemporary search for religious meaning can interface. The 31 month project, “Preaching with the Sciences: An Imaginative Approach to Roman Catholic Homiletics” will be directed by emeritus faculty member, Rev. Edward Foley, Capuchin who is known for his compelling preaching.

During Foley’s 36 years of teaching at CTU, he has served the school as Duns Scotus Professor of Spirituality, Professor of Liturgy and Music, Founding Director of the Ecumenical Doctor of Ministry Program and Coordinator of the school’s liturgy and musical celebrations. Foley will bring his wealth of experience to this innovative project which he conceived, designed and will implement. Updates on the project will regularly be posted on his website edwardfoleycapuchin.org.

A primary way Roman Catholics explore their faith and nourish their spirituality is through preaching. However, few preachers explicitly connect faith or spirituality with science. This grant will gather leading scientists and homileticians to explore the positive contributions science can make to preaching, and consequently contribute to more contemporary modes of believing.

The project’s ultimate outcome will be a compilation of 100+ homily outlines for preaching key Sundays and feast days across the three-year lectionary cycle. The considerable output of the project will be made available in an open access format through the Catholic Theological Union website and other portals such as textweek.com. These free homiletic resources have the potential to influence thousands of preachers seeking help each week in crafting sermons and will help shape a scientifically informed religious imagination among future preachers.

“In our present cultural context where science and faith seem to be at odds in the minds of some believers, a project that brings together preaching informed by science is both crucial and potentially life-saving,” said Rev. Mark R. Francis CSV, President of Catholic Theological Union. “CTU is both proud and excited to be part of this project.”

Hey, I’m proud and excited to be a part of it, too!

The ringmaster behind all this, Rev. Ed Foley, is no slouch. In addition to being the vice-postulator for the canonization cause of Blessed Solanus Casey, he’s been busy with a few other things over the years:

Edward Foley, Capuchin is the Duns Scotus Professor Emeritus of Spirituality, retired Professor of Liturgy and Music and founding director of the Ecumenical Doctor of Ministry Program at Catholic Theological Union. He holds graduate degrees in ministry, music and theology including the Ph.D. from Notre Dame. He has released collections of CDs and DVDs, authored or edited 28 books, produced 57 book chapters, 44 peer review articles, and almost 200 encyclopedia, dictionary and pastoral articles translated into 9 languages. He has lectured around the world from the catechetical institute in Mumbai to the Mayo Clinic, for 6000 teens in the Houston Astrodome to graduate students in Brisbane, from St. Scholastica College in Manila to Wescott College in Cambridge. A Lilly sabbatical Fellow, recipient of the Berakah lifetime achievement award from the North American Academy of Liturgy, and honored in 2020 with the Frederick McManus award from the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, he presides and preaches at Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago and St. Mary’s Church in Riverside.

I hope I can keep up. We have our first Zoom conference and lecture this evening.

There’s more about the project and the 10 homilists who are taking part here. 

I hope to post updates on this over the next two-and-a-half years (gulp), along with links to all the homily outlines as they are completed.

We had a Zoom meeting to get to know each other a few weeks back, and I was heartened to discover that most of us are relatively clueless when it comes to matters of science.  (I can boil water, and that’s about it.) This will be something exciting and challenging for all of us — and, God willing, will bear fruit far beyond this project.

Stay tuned!