St. John’s priest podcasts homilies to public



By Amanda Graf

In the chapel on the corner of Sixth Street and Armory Avenue, there’s a stained glass window where St. John the Baptist stands with an arm outstretched toward the Quad. The gospel of Mark says the inhabitants of Jerusalem followed St. John into the desert to hear him preach and be baptized.

There is no desert on the University campus, so the Rev. Thomas Holloway, assistant pastor at St. John’s Catholic Chapel, 604 E. Armory Ave., found a modern medium to preach the gospel to the masses: a podcast. A podcast is free audio broadcast accessed through iTunes, or a similar program, which users can listen to at any time. Holloway’s podcasts are available on the Internet by clicking here.

In Fall 2006, Rev. Holloway, known as Father Tom, began to broadcast the homilies he delivers during the 5 p.m. Sunday Mass at St. John’s. Since then he has been “surprised and humbled” to hear that students and alumni around the world tune in to hear him preach.

“I wanted people to be able to track with me on a certain thought,” Fr. Tom said.

He said he had profited from hearing sermons preached in a series at other churches. When homilies connect from week to week, they provide a “distinct course,” he said, and by making them available online, people can go back and recognize where themes and thoughts connect.

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    “Let me hear that again,” is Scott Kallal’s first reaction when he listens to the homilies online. Kallal, a former University student who is in Rome studying to become a priest, met Fr. Tom in 2000 as a freshman. When he heard about the podcast from his sister Cheryl, a junior in LAS, he was excited for another chance to hear Fr. Tom preach.

    “Fr. Tom tells you how it is. He doesn’t mess around and he doesn’t water down the truth. He doesn’t pretend like evil is good, and he doesn’t make being good mean being boring,” Kallal said in an e-mail interview.

    Joshua Pierce, sophomore in Engineering and information technology assistant at St. John’s, said it is easy to get the words from the priest’s podium to the podcast. Fr. Tom records the homilies during Mass on a simple digital recorder and e-mails them to Pierce, who then posts them on the podcast.

    “If you know it’s being recorded for posterity, it better be what you mean to say,” Fr. Tom said.

    While he said his homilies have been more planned and specific since the recording, they are not meant to be lectures. He wants to offer a message that encourages people, rather than “crush” them with a set of rules that are hard to get excited about.

    “We want to show the Lord and His Catholic Church to people as being approachable ‘how they are’ as we seek the conversion that results from receiving the undiluted gospel and from intimacy with Jesus, especially in the Holy Eucharist,” he said on the St. John’s Web site.

    Kallal has faith in Fr. Tom’s ability to reach people through his preaching.

    “He gives you a chance to taste the mystery, to touch the untouchable, to see the invisible because he himself has been there. He has experienced God’s tremendous power and his life-transforming mercy and so he is able to transmit it to others,” Kallal said.