Susan Ciancio, a faithful listener of the Bible in a Year podcast, details plans by Ascension Press to keep the podcast's momentum going.
It’s been the Catholic sensation of the year. It’s brought hope. It’s brought joy. It’s brought understanding. And it’s created an amazing community of people who pray daily for each other. I’m talking about the Bible in a Year podcast.
About this time last year, I read that Ascension and Fr. Mike Schmitz were planning to launch a Bible in a Year podcast where, every day, Fr. Mike would read excerpts from Ascension’s Great Adventure Catholic Bible, say a prayer, and then explain what he had read. I was ecstatic! I had always wanted to read the Bible from beginning to end but had never done it. Now I would have the chance. Plus, I was a huge fan of Fr. Mike’s — if one can be a fan of a priest — as I’d watched many of his videos and found his way of teaching to be extremely moving and energizing.
The podcast uses the Great Adventure Bible Timeline created by Jeff Cavins — a Catholic writer, speaker, and podcast host. The combination of the Great Adventure Catholic Bible and the Bible timeline gives listeners a biblical worldview that helps them understand how we all fit into the story of salvation. Through this podcast, people have discovered the heart of our Heavenly Father and His beautiful plan for His children.
Thirsty for God’s truth
The Bible in a Year podcast has been more amazing than I could have ever imagined. And I’m far from the only one who has felt its transformative power. In a year filled with turmoil, illness, and political and social unrest, this podcast has not only literally been a Godsend for me, but for thousands of people.
During a press conference last Wednesday, Ascension gave us the mind-blowing statistics. From January 2-18, 2021, the Bible in a Year was the number one podcast in America in all categories! From January 2, 2021, to June 30, 2021, the podcast achieved number one status in the “Religion & Spirituality” category. Since then, it has remained in the top two!
As of November 3, 2021, people have spent 3.3 billion total minutes listening to the podcast. There have been 142 million cumulative downloads, with an average of 464,000 downloads per day — 418,000 of those in the US. So far, 75,000 Catholics have joined the Ascension Bible in a Year Facebook group.
Further, by the end of the podcast on December 31, listeners will have spent 148 hours (that’s 6.2 days) this year listening to the word of God!
The excitement grows
During the press conference, Ascension made four exciting announcements.
First, between Dec 19, 2021, and Jan 9, 2022, a billboard in Times Square (at 7th Ave & 48th St.) will promote the podcast. If you’ve been waiting for a sign to begin the podcast, this is literally it!
Second, on January 1, 2022, Ascension will launch a Spanish version of Bible in a Year hosted by a native Spanish speaker.
Third, Ascension will host a limited capacity virtual retreat for Bible in a Year listeners the weekend of February 18, 2022. This retreat is designed to “help Catholics cultivate a lifelong relationship with the word of God.” Registration will begin in early December.
And fourth, Ascension is considering a Catechism in a Year podcast in 2023 hosted by Fr. Mike and Jeff Cavins.
For nearly a year, Fr. Mike has come into our lives, into our homes, and into our hearts. His words of encouragement have united us, inspired us, and caused us to shed tears of both joy and sadness.
Hearing the word of God read so flawlessly and eloquently by someone so on fire for Christ has ignited the faith in countless numbers of people. The podcast has not only shaped minds and changed hearts, but has converted and brought many back to Catholicism. Its impact has been unfathomable.
I think I will cry on the last day of the podcast, and maybe — though I will feel a sense of accomplishment—I will also feel a sense of loss. When something has been such a huge part of your day and your life for a year, you hate to see it end. But the beauty of this podcast is that it will always be there and that God’s word will live forever. So, while we may have just finished the entire Bible, we have never finished hearing God’s word.
And, as Cavins said at the end of the press conference, now it’s our turn. We have heard God’s voice daily all year long. What will we do with it? We must act; we must become disciples of Christ and allow the seeds planted by the podcast to bear fruit.
So, let us take the word of God, the inspiration generated by Fr. Mike and the entire Ascension team, and the truth of our Lord’s love and go out and shower it on our friends, on our families, and within our communities.
The entire podcast journey has prepared us for this challenge. We just need to accept.
At the conclusion of each episode, when Fr. Mike says “I cannot wait to see you tomorrow” we know he means it. And when he gives that final goodbye on December 31, I know many hearts will break just a bit.
But we will continue to pray for one another and for Fr. Mike, for this community, like the word of God, will go on indefinitely.
Copyright 2021 Susan Ciancio
Images: (top) Canva Pro; all others courtesy of Ascension Press, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s in liberal studies from Indiana University. Since 2003, she has worked as a professional editor and writer. She is executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program and editor of ALL's Celebrate Life Magazine.