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Donor generosity helps Institute for Homiletics create $7.5 million permanent endowment 

Special to The Texas Catholic  

The Institute for Homiletics at the University of Dallas has reached its goal of establishing a $7.5 million permanent endowment, a key need in the effort to improve preaching in the Catholic Church. This endowment, held as a designated fund at The Catholic Foundation in Dallas, will contribute funds in support of the Institute’s annual operating budget. 

“The generosity of our donors can never be underestimated. Their financial support has made this Institute possible,” said Dr. Karla Bellinger, executive director of the institute. “Parishioners are already giving us feedback about our first ongoing formation program. They are excited about the improved preaching of their clergy; ‘Pretty good homilies’ are becoming ‘inspirational and motivational.’” 

The first cohort of preachers will finish the Preaching for Encounter program this summer. Jim Moroney, who led the fundraising for the permanent endowment, values all donors and appreciates the immense support of clergy leadership. 

“I am grateful to Bishop [Edward J.] Burns in Dallas for his enthusiastic endorsement of this initiative when it was first discussed with him,” said Moroney. “I also want to thank Bishop [Greg] Kelly for his ongoing work in support of the institute. Bishop Kelly’s help has been invaluable and his participation in the first cohort is a wonderful example of servant leadership. 

 “The fundraising effort and work would not have been successful without the steady hand and boots on the groundwork of Kris Kramer, who accompanied me on almost every meeting with prospective donors,” added Moroney. 

 “Every donor showed faith in the work when there was nothing yet to see. They knew how important it was to our Church’s future that we improve preaching in the Catholic Church,” said Moroney. “Donors know in their hearts that if the Institute can help priests and deacons preach homilies that give people in the pews a genuine encounter with the living God then our churches will be vibrant and on fire with the Holy Spirit.” 

Bishop Burns said the early fruits of the Institute are fueling the desire of people to be drawn closer to Jesus Christ through hearing inspiring words of faith, hope and love. 

“How blessed we are to hear from people in the pews who say the liturgies they’ve attended that involve clergy who are members of the first cohort are helping them draw nearer to Christ,” Bishop Burns said. “I am ever so grateful to the donors who have enabled the Institute to become a light of hope for our Church.” 

Matt Kramer, president and CEO of The Catholic Foundation, said donors can continue to make contributions to the designated fund at any time and from anywhere. 

“The Institute for Homiletics at the University of Dallas is a blessing to the Church and her people. Finding more effective ways to share the word of God is at the heart of the new evangelization, and the success of the program is already bearing tremendous fruit,” said University of Dallas President Jonathan J. Sanford, PhD. “The University of Dallas is incredibly grateful to Jim Moroney for leading the charge to reach this milestone in fundraising, and for the tremendous support of the Diocese of Dallas and The Catholic Foundation.” 

The institute currently has priests and deacons from the Dioceses of Dallas, the Diocese of Victoria, Texas and Diocese of Green Bay, Wis. enrolled in its first two-year “Preaching for Encounter” program. 

The second cohort of priests and deacons begin with their introductory summer retreat in June. They come from the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Diocese of Joliet, Ill., the Diocese of San Antonio and the Diocese of Dallas. 

In 2022, the Lily Endowment granted the institute 1.3 million dollars over the next five years. The five-year grant will enable the institute to implement the “Into Deeper Waters: Renewing Liturgical Preaching to Reach Young Catholics” initiative. That project supports research and resources for improving liturgical preaching with young Catholics.