By the time in the semester when Christmas vacation rolls around, I'm ready for a little R&R, as well as some time at home with my family. I really look forward to this special time of year when I have the chance to relive some of the meaningful holiday traditions that I grew up with. This year's Christmas vacation was no different in this regard but it was certainly unique, as I was given a special gift that made this break extra meaningful.
The Festival of Young Preachers is a trans-denominational event that seeks to support young people in their call to preach. Virtually every Christian tradition was represented as over one hundred fifteen preachers from all over the country gathered to share their reflections on Scripture passages that spoke to this year's theme, "Questions of the Soul." I chose to preach on the question St. Paul poses in Romans 8:35—What can separate us from the love of God? —and focused on God's faithfulness as a reason for anchoring our hope in the Lord, especially during times of suffering. This is certainly a difficult message to hear (let alone preach!), but it is a message near and dear to those of us in Holy Cross who profess the cross as our only hope.
Those who preached at the conference (including my brother in Holy Cross, Chase Pepper, C.S.C.) were able to spend time together in small groups in order to share feedback and ideas. While the Christian traditions of participants varied, we found many similarities amongst our pastoral experiences related to preaching. Together we shared helpful resources, book recommendations, preparation and delivery methodologies, and even discussed "hot topics" in the field of homiletics (for example, the role of technology or the role of the congregation as it relates to homily preparation and feedback, etc.).
Mr. Dennis Strach, C.S.C., is in his second-year of Temporary Vows at Moreau Seminary,and he and his classmates are currently studying preaching and Homiletics as part of their theology studies. Dennis recently celebrated Christmas with his family in Rochester Hills, Mich.