Preaching Matters: A Praxis for Preachers

Bishop Sylvester Ryan

Bishop Sylvester Ryan was born in Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California, on September 3, 1930. He attended public elementary and high schools and after a year of college, entered the Seminaries of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He was ordained May 3, 1957, and served as an associate pastor and high school teacher, principal, chaplain at Mt Saint Mary’s College in Los Angeles, eight years as a pastor, and five years as the rector of the Seminary College in Camarillo. He was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese and appointed the Bishop of the Diocese of Monterey in March 1992. He retired seven years ago. Bishop Ryan has an MA in Religious Education and has written a book of poetry and a workbook on Liturgy. For many years he conducted retreats for priests, parish workshops, missions and prayer days. Bishop Ryan served as Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Stewardship and Chairman of the California Catholic Bishops. He worked as team with Dr. Wilhelm conducting classes in homiletics and is now supplying in parishes in the Diocese of Monterey.

Deborah L. Wilhelm

Dr. Deborah L. Wilhelm is a preaching teacher, lay preacher, and retreat facilitator. She holds a D.Min in preaching from the Aquinas Institute of Theology, and she teaches homiletics for the Diocese of Monterey (California) and for Santa Clara University. Her academic work has focused on adult learning and formation for ministry, with a specialization in preaching formation. She and Bishop Ryan taught homiletics as a team for the Diocese of Monterey, and that work became the inspiration for Preaching Matters. She writes both nonfiction and poetry, and teaches writing at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California.


Preaching Matters is a praxis text offering practical strategies to new and experienced preachers. The book responds to the call of the USCCB in its document Preaching the Mystery of Faith for “the publication of practical resources that will help renew the preaching ministry of the Church, so urgent at this time” (5). It takes the theological reflection of the Bishops’ document as a launching point for a fresh discussion about what preaching is and why it is important. In addition, Preaching Matters also considers the section on homiletics from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Working from the perspective of the homily as conversational in nature, the book adopts a conversational approach, speaking from preacher to preacher. It discusses the identity of the preacher and listener in relationship, and it offers a method of preaching preparation that focuses on listening for God’s voice in the scripture, finding one idea that matters, writing, speaking, and sharing the preaching. 

A paperback version of Preaching Matters is available from 

Cover for Preaching Matters: A Praxis for Preachers

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