A sister giving a homily

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  One of the sisters in my community has a question about having a sister give a homily (or reflection) during Eucharist celebrated in their community. Apparently the priest who presides at these Masses finds that this sister gives excellent homilies and he wants her to give them regularly in their community celebrations of Eucharist. They are wondering if this is allowed.


A:  There is no provision for a layperson to give the homily at Mass. In fact, GIRM 66 prohibits it, citing canon law. In my book Let Us Pray I cite exceptions from the Directory for Masses with Children 24, and a 1973 letter from Cardinal Wright that permitted laypersons with special qualifications to preach. But this would not apply to the situation you describe.

The restrictions are not so explicit in non-eucharistic settings, such as communion outside Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. I hope the sister finds a way to use her gifts.


You could also cite to de Ecclesiae Mysterio, Article 3.1:  “The homily, therefore, during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, must be reserved to the sacred minister, priest or deacon to the exclusion of the non-ordained faithful, even if these should have responsibilities as ‘pastoral assistants’ or catechists in whatever type of community or group. . . . For the same reason the diocesan bishop cannot validly dispense from the canonical norm . . . . ”  It goes on to say that this exclusion encompasses “seminarians or theology students who are not clerics”.  

(Approved on August 13, 1997, by St. JPII.)