Did you know that Sydney has its own YouTube priest?
Each Wednesday the parish priest of St Michael’s Lane Cove, Fr Geoffrey Plant, publishes his homilies online for the upcoming Sunday.
But he still manages to reach an impressive 2000-3500 people with his offerings each week, around a quarter of them in the US.
Apart from homilies, Fr Plant has uploaded an introductory talk on Christian meditation and one on papal elections.
He has also developed series of talks including an introduction to the Bible, the meaning of New Testament words, and is gradually posting a series on the Catholic faith for RCIA.
Fr Plant, who teaches a course in homiletics at the Catholic Institute of Sydney, says that a homily is “a bridge which seeks to span the distance between God’s Word as we encounter it in the Bible and my life in the 21st century”.
He generally doesn’t appear in his YouTube videos, but spends several days preparing both the homily and an accompanying slide show using graphics, photos and quotes.
He says he was always fascinated by the prospect of using visuals in the homily and experimented in various ways, originally with a slide projector before graduating to a computer.
“I’ve found it to be a powerful way of communicating,” he says.
“A number of priests have said to me they find it helpful in preparing their own homilies.”
Brisbane-based Br Patrick White CFC uses the videos with a weekly Gospel discussion groups he runs and says he finds them to be “interesting, informative and directed at the people in the pew”.
“Fr Plant’s approach is as a good teacher, carefully explaining the various texts of the current Sunday.
“My group has really appreciated the explanations, the instructive IT work, and his general, pastoral approach to the audience through the scriptures.
“I would wish that more Churches would be as progressive and pastoral as it appears to be the case in Lane Cove.”
Fr Plant says that a good homilist is always on the lookout for interesting stories, newspaper clips, or anything that will be a vehicle to conveying the Word of God.
“Ideally a homily should inform and re-form us,” he says.
“We’re telling a story, not just any story, but the greatest story ever told.
“We have to try to make it resonate with our personal story, to show how it brings meaning, purpose, and direction to our lives.”
He says part of what he aims to do in his homilies is promote Biblical literacy.