Breaking Open the Word

A Model for Catechesis and Homily Preparation

Course Description

The goal of this course is to present a somewhat flexible method for interpreting the Word of God. As such, this module should be especially useful for preachers, catechists, religious educators, those involved in the RCIA, and small bible study groups. The course is divided into two units. The first unit is introductory and consists of an exploration, first of all, of human communication and second, an examination of the preaching of Jesus as a model for contemporary interpreters of the Word. Additionally, two theories of communication are offered. The second unit presents a method for exegesis and interpretation of the scriptures. The unit will begin with some general principles and then proceed to some examples which model the method presented.

Course Content

Week 1

  1. Unit 1 content
  2. Fulfilled in Your Hearing

Week 2

  1. Unit 2 content
  2. Pondering exercise
  3. Ordering exercise

Week 3

  1. Write a homily/reflection on one text. Use working groups for each text.

Course Format

  • Four weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • Lectures delivered via video player.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic.
  • Creation of one short homily or catechetical reflection based upon a selected Scripture passage.
  • Facilitator moderated chat sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • All course materials are available online in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • View or read the lecture for each unit.
  • Read assigned texts; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Write a short homily or catechetical reflection and share supporting work from the preparation method presented.
  • Participate in at least 2 scheduled chat sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

Time Expectations

3 to 5 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 20 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

Meet the Developer

Rev. John A. Melloh, S.M., Ph.D.

Rev. John A. Melloh, S.M., Ph.D.

John Allyn Melloh, S.M., was a member of the Society of Mary (Marianists). At the University of Dayton, he received an A.B.in philosophy and mathematics and later a BS in Ed. at the same institution. An M.A. in Liturgical Studies from the University of Notre Dame was followed by a Ph.D. from St. Louis University in Historical Theology.

With William Storey, he was co-editor of Praise God in Song: Ecumenical Daily Prayer and also PGIS: Night Prayer. Past president of CATH and charter member of Societas Homiletica, he lectured widely in the U.S., Canada, England, and Australia.