In partnership with ACU, the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn created the Xavier School of Preaching, a pilot course that sought to increase theological and communicative expertise in those called to preach and teach the Word across a variety of vocations and ministries.

The course intended to provide greater theological foundations and skills in participants' preaching, as well as greater enthusiasm and confidence in mission and faith transmission in participants and mentors. This project sought to evaluate the effectiveness of a combined innovative way of working that was piloted in the course, consisting of a tailored Professional Learning Workshop delivered on site in Canberra, paired with a set of asynchronous learning modules that was established in ACU's OpenLearning platform. The final report explores course participants' feedback, which they provided through a survey.

Survey respondents rated the in-person workshop as a positive experience and the majority felt their communication skills and confidence had improved as a result of the course. Learning highlights included the power of testimony, the discovery that there are varied ways and forms of preaching, the planning necessary for preaching to be effective, and the invitation to never hesitate in proclaiming the Good News to others, for the hope that it brings them.

While the challenges of COVID-19 and participants' own schedules affected their capacity to interact with the online modules to their full extent, the content was helpful in rekindling participants' motivation and passion for preaching. Overall, participant feedback suggests that the course is valuable in supporting the ongoing training of ministers and priests for the task of preaching and teaching in parishes, communities and schools. In addition to theological formation and development of practical skills, the course provided participants an experience of having effective preaching modelled to them from a diverse range of practitioners: men and women, clerical and lay. Participants' feedback has been used to inform the expansion of the course into other dioceses, which is underway in 2023.


The School of Preaching for the Church of the Twenty-first Century

Media items

Catholic Voice - National program offers preaching skills for all baptised

Catholic Outlook - Theologian and missionary Dr Maeve Heaney taking preaching school around Australia

The Catholic Leader - Catholics called to share God's life-giving message at Brisbane preaching school


The Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn

Project team
  • Fr Tony Percy - Vicar-General, Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn
  • Mr Huw Warmenhoven - Youth Ministry Coordinator, Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn
  • Associate Professor Maeve Louise Heaney - School of Theology and Xavier Centre for Theological Formation, ACU
  • Dr Jill Cox, ACU Engagement
  • Ms Vivien Cinque, ACU Engagement

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