Five-minute sermons help families focus, priest hopes

Five-minute sermons help families focus, priest hopes Fr Paddy O’Kane

Short sermons could be key to holding the attention of congregations and could even help draw families with young children back to church, a Derry priest has realised after a spell on American pews.

After a sabbatical in Texas where he was encouraged to sit among the congregation to get a sense of how lay people perceive the Mass, Fr Paddy O’Kane, parish priest at Holy Family Church in Ballymagroarty, has resolved to keep his sermons to a maximum of five minutes’ length.


Even interesting homilies could not fully hold his attention for longer than that, he told The Belfast Telegraph, whereas other sermons that struck him as “short, sharp and to the point”, were, he felt “very uplifting”.

Speculating that shorter sermons could also be more child-friendly than longer ones, Fr O’Kane said he hoped shorter sermons could help encourage families to come back to church, and emphasising that as it is more difficult to write short sermons than long ones, said his decision was not a matter of “taking it easy”.