Internet course for priests

Krakow’s Roman Catholic archdiocese will offer an online course beginning next month aimed at helping priests deliver more effective sermons.

The move to Internet teaching of sermons comes at a time when more priests are using computer-based tools to deliver their messages from the pulpit. These tools include multimedia presentations. Twenty-five priests in Poland and abroad will be able to take the semester-long course, which will last until summer.

Krakow’s Saint Stanislaw Publishing House is producing the multimedia materials for the course.
Although the cost of the course is relatively high – 800 zloty – many priests are eager to sign up, the archdiocese says. Those who pass the final examination will receive a certificate signed by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow.
Today’s sermons should be short, concrete and vivid, which is easier said than done. That’s why the archdiocese decided on the course.

The students will not only write their sermons but record them so instructors can hear their delivery. The instructors will give them feedback on the sermons’ content, including how well they are communicating what the priest wants to say, and on the priests’ speaking skills.

Students will receive multimedia training aids and be able to get online advice from such sermon experts as Father Edward Staniek of the Pope Theological Academy in Krakow.

“Nowadays we are facing a new challenge – how to evangelize using modern means of communication,” Father Staniek said.
In the future, multimedia presentations that include pictures will play a greater role, he said.
“The more pictures we have, the easier it will be to evangelize,” he said. He noted that over the centuries many artists have painted pictures of Biblical events and people, especially Jesus.
These works could be used to help deliver the messages of sermons, he said.

After all, he said, “the greatest painting masters were great theology masters as well.”
Father Robert Necka, the spokesman for the Krakow archdiocese, agrees with Father Staniek that more and more priests will be delivering multimedia sermons.
Some Krakow priests are already doing so, including Father Jacek Stryczek, who often preaches to medical students.
Father Krzysztof Podstawka, director of the Single Mothers Home in Lublin, said the Internet is a great tool for priests. “A priest’s education cannot end after graduation from the seminary,” he said.

“Sermons are a huge challenge for a priest,” and they should be delivered in ways that today’s church-goers can relate to, Father Podstawka said. That suggests multimedia.
In a day when people’s attention spans seem to be short, a sermon should last no longer than 15 minutes, he said. The core of the message can be delivered in a few sentences, he added.

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