The No. 1 podcast in the U.S. might come as a surprise. It’s not true crime, news or sports. Think instead of “The Bible in a Year,” hosted by Father Mike Schmitz ’03 MDiv.
Within 48 hours of its Jan. 1 launch, Schmitz’s podcast rocketed to the top of the Apple Podcasts chart. There have been more than 3.5 million downloads as of Jan. 12.
In “The Bible in a Year,” Schmitz invites listeners to journey through the full text of the Catholic Bible in a daily podcast format. He uses multimedia Catholic publisher Ascension’s Bible Timeline Learning System to structure each episode and welcomes the Bible Timeline creator Jeff Cavins onto the podcast for special guest appearances. Ascension, with whom Schmitz collaborates on the popular “Ascension Presents” YouTube channel, also produces the podcast.
“It reveals a lot about people’s hunger,” Schmitz told Fox 5 New York. “It reveals that it’s the new year, and that people have a desire to make a change.”
Each episode is approximately 20 minutes long and features Schmitz reading several chapters from Scripture followed by a short reflection.
Schmitz earned his Master of Divinity at The Saint Paul Seminary and was ordained a priest in 2003. Besides hosting the country’s top podcast, Schmitz serves as the chaplain for Newman Catholic Campus Ministries at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“One of the primary reasons why I wanted to create this podcast was because my own mind was being filled with a lot of chaotic voices. Some were wise, many were merely distracting,” Schmitz said. “I think that a lot of people are tired of those same distracting and temporary voices. And they want what I want: to allow our hearts and minds to be shaped by something eternal – God’s eternal Word.”
The show’s 365 total podcasts will cover every verse of the Bible. Cavins and Schmitz also are collaborating on bonus content.
“We are overwhelmed by the staggering response to this podcast,” said Matthew Pinto, founder and president of Ascension. “We had hoped that this program would be exciting to our listeners, but this huge level of response is truly unbelievable. People are hungry for God, and we’re honored to help them encounter God’s Word through a daily podcast, especially as so many of us continue to be cut off from our parishes, communities and loved ones during these difficult days.”