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Susan Ciancio interviews Jeff Cavins about his role in the popular Bible in a Year podcast.

As Catholics, we are all members of the universal Church. But do we all feel a connection to the universal church? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. This past year has been difficult for so many people. With churches closed, Masses celebrated online, and isolation so prevalent, many people have felt an immense disconnect from their Church community.

But God had a plan. He heard our pleas. He heard our cries. He knows the sorrow and the strife we’ve faced during this pandemic. He knows that there couldn’t have been a more perfect time for Ascension’s Bible in a Year podcast.


Bible in a Year logo

God’s love, mercy, and compassion stirred the heart of Fr. Mike Schmitz, who saw a need. Fr. Mike is a priest from the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, who is known for his dynamic personality and his inspirational videos on Catholicism. Understanding the pull and popularity of podcasts — as he has his own on Ascension as well — he realized that, though many people desire to read the Bible, sitting down to read it alone could be a barrier to following through and actually reading the entire thing.

So, according to Bible Timeline creator and author Jeff Cavins, who also has a podcast on Ascension, Fr. Mike “got the idea to read through the entire Bible in a podcast format.” Cavins stated: “Fr. Mike brought the idea to Ascension, Ascension looped me in to use the Bible Timeline framework for the reading plan and the sequence of the books, and the rest is history!”

History indeed! After just two days, the Bible in a Year podcast hit number one on the podcast charts. Not just Catholic podcasts — all podcasts! It spent several weeks in the top 10 and currently sits at 22—an amazing success story for a Catholic podcast.

A blessing we all needed

In case you aren’t yet familiar with BIY, let me introduce you. Every day, Fr. Mike reads excerpts from the Bible, says a short prayer, and follows with an explanation of the day’s reading. In just 20 minutes or so a day, he brings the word of God into people’s homes and hearts while sharing his passion, his exuberance, his love for God, and his humor. His catch phrases such as “Man o man,” “My gosh, you guys!” “What a massive gift!” and more not only soften hearts but make listeners smile. Many people have written that this podcast is the highlight of their days. And at the end of each day, when Fr. Mike says “I cannot wait to see you tomorrow,” we know he means it.

Because this podcast has been an immense blessing for so many people, Ascension created a Facebook discussion group so that podcast listeners can support one another, share thoughts, and pray for each other. The Ascension Catholic Bible Studies FB group has almost 55,000 members and continues to grow every day!

To add to a deeper understanding of the readings, Jeff Cavins goes live on FB every Thursday afternoon to answer questions that people have posited on the Ascension FB page throughout the week. People need only use #AskJeffCavins to pose their question, to seek guidance, or to ask for clarity. The Ascension team monitors the page and sifts through the questions. Then, in a 20-30-minute live event, Cavins answers as many questions as he can. His ability to explain difficult topics draws countless people to these videos. And though his Q&A session is live, those who cannot watch live can always find it on the Ascension FB page later.

God’s master plan in the Bible restores people to not only the truth, but also to a God-given power to walk in that story. #catholicmom


I asked Cavins to share his favorite part about the Bible in a Year podcast. He responded: “I think that the combination of daily reading the Bible as a complete narrative along with key guidance in the areas that people typically get confused is priceless. Just knowing that the Bible contains God’s master plan is comforting, but to actually participate in the collective reading of that plan is life transforming.”

And if you look at the comments of the group members, you will see that it has, indeed, transformed lives. The BIY podcast has brought people back to the Church and the sacraments, it has helped mend broken relationships, it has strengthened marriages, it has garnered the interest of children and teens, and it has even brought non-Catholics to Catholicism. Most importantly, it has given everyone the opportunity to hear God’s voice on a daily basis.

Many in these online communities have said they feel like Fr. Mike is speaking directly to them. It’s not hard to see why. In his comforting tone, he tells listeners he’s proud of them. He encourages them. He asks people to pray for him and for each other. And people do! The Ascension FB page is teeming with people seeking prayers and telling others they pray daily for them.

Spreading joy

It’s not only Fr. Mike’s joy that is contagious. We see that same joy in Cavins when he conducts his FB live events. Cavins explains that joy: “[Fr. Mike and I] are both invested in God’s story of salvation, and we both also are filled with joy when discussing it. It’s like telling someone where treasure is buried, and then watching them digging and ultimately finding that treasure.”

And there is no greater treasure than God.

Cavins tells a story that illustrates just how impactful the podcast is for listeners. Several weeks ago, he and his wife were taking a walk around a pond when “two ladies sitting on a bench yelled out to us that The Bible in a Year was the highlight of their day. We stopped and had a wonderful discussion about The Bible in a Year and rejoiced together with them. Through social media and podcasts you may be reaching people that you walk by at the mall, or in this instance, a pond. The breadth of reach is amazing!”

With the success of BIY, Cavins sees what we all have felt and witnessed lately: “People as a whole are searching for that which is true, faithful, dependable, and holy. Watching TV and spending time on the Internet leads one to think that truth is lost and beauty is distorted. God’s master plan in the Bible restores people to not only the truth, but also to a God-given power to walk in that story.”

And as we walk in that story, we can rest assured that we all walk together. We are not alone. Though times may feel difficult, God and this amazing community of listeners are with us, picking us up when we fall, giving us a shoulder to lean on, and strengthening our faith not just in God, but in humanity.

Cavins stresses that it’s never too late to jump in and start the podcast. All days are on podcast apps or on the Ascension site. New listeners can begin on Day 1, or they can jump into today’s reading and go back to the beginning later.

The important part is taking those first steps — getting that podcast app and signing up. Once you hear Fr. Mike’s voice reading the word of God, once you hear Jeff Cavins explaining the truths of our faith, and once you experience the loving community of people seeking the closeness to God that you seek, your life will be transformed as well, for God does truly understand what we need and when we need it. And for that we cannot help but feel thankful.


woman using earbuds to listen to podcast in coffee shop

Copyright 2021 Susan Ciancio
Images: Canva Pro