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 via Chat
  3. Ordering exercise via Discussion Board

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 an online presentation with audio narration.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic.
  • Creation of one short homily or catechetical reflection based upon a selected Scripture passage.
  • Weekly moderated chat sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • All course material available online in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • Weekly reading or viewing of lecture texts.
  • Participation in class discussion using discussion area (minimum 2 comments, questions or responses weekly.)
  • Written assignments: short homily or catechetical reflection along with supporting work following the preparation method presented.
  • Attendance at two of the scheduled chat sessions.
  • Course evaluation.

Time Expectations

3 to 5 hours a week (time varies from student to student 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 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.