Can a Woman preach at Mass? The Catholic Church is clear on this matter.
The Code of Canon Law states:
“Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is pre-eminent” (No. 767).
Also, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal reaffirms:
“The homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself or be entrusted by him to a concelebrating Priest, or from time to time and, if appropriate, to the deacon, but never to a layperson” (No. 66)
The Church generally wants priests to shepherd their flocks. The homily is an essential aspect of the Mass.
However, nothing prevents a well-trained lay-faithful man or woman from preaching in other Church settings: Parish missions, lay-led Communion services, other prayer services. We are called to preach the word of God and can share in such situations in the absence of a priest.
Preaching the Word of God is among the principal duties of those who have received the sacrament of orders (cc. 762-764). The lay faithful can be called to cooperate in the exercise of the Ministry of the Word (c. 759). In accord with canon 766, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops hereby decrees that the lay faithful may be permitted to exercise this ministry in churches and oratories, with due regard for the following provisions: If necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems useful in particular cases, the diocesan bishop can admit lay faithful to preach, to offer spiritual conferences or give instructions in churches, oratories or other sacred places within his diocese, when he judges it to be to the spiritual advantage of the faithful.
In order to assist the diocesan bishop in making an appropriate pastoral decision (Interdicasterial Instruction, Ecclesiae de Mysterio, Article 2 §3), the following circumstances and cases are illustrative: the absence or shortage of clergy, particular language requirements, or the demonstrated expertise or experience of the lay faithful concerned.
The lay faithful who are to be admitted to preach in a church or oratory must be orthodox in faith, and well-qualified, both by the witness of their lives as Christians and by a preparation for preaching appropriate to the circumstances. The diocesan bishop will determine the appropriate situations in accord with canon 772, §1. In providing for preaching by the lay faithful the diocesan bishop may never dispense from the norm which reserves the homily to the sacred ministers (c. 767, §1; cfr. Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, 26 May 1987, in AAS 79 , 1249). Preaching by the lay faithful may not take place within the Celebration of the Eucharist at the moment reserved for the homily.
Can a Woman preach at Mass?