With over 238 million downloads, the Minnesota priest’s podcast is back in the Top Ten of all Apple podcasts.
Who would have thought that a daily podcast in which a Catholic priest reads the Bible would become one of the most popular programs on Apple Podcasts?
That’s just what happened with the “Bible in a Year,” a free podcast presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz and Ascension Press, which has been downloaded over 238 million times since its launch just over a year ago.
In 2021, it held the #1 position among all Apple Podcasts for several weeks after its introduction and maintained a position among the top-ranked podcasts for the rest of the year. Now in its second year, a new group of listeners is listening every day, working their way through the entire Bible in 365 days, from Genesis to Revelation, with Fr. Mike as a guide.
New listeners tune in after CBS interview
Earlier this month the story of the podcast’s improbable success was covered by CBS Evening News, which aired an interview with Fr. Mike, who also serves as chaplain at the University of Minnesota Duluth. After the segment ran, Google searches for “Bible in a Year” and related terms grew by over 700%, according to the podcast’s producers at Ascension.
The result: the “Bible in a Year” podcast is once again in the Top Ten of all Apple podcasts, ranking above “The Ben Shapiro Show” and “This American Life.”
Adopting a biblical worldview
When asked whether he was surprised by the podcast’s popularity, Fr. Mike was reluctant to take any credit for the program’s success.
He told CBS Evening News, “So that doesn’t surprise me, what surprises me is that it was the one that I did that was helpful or successful in this particular way.”
Fr. Mike says he came up with the idea for the podcast in 2020 during the pandemic lockdown, when he began reading the Bible daily.
“I realized it was grounding me in a unique way,” the told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It helped me find a sense of peace.”
He then decided that he wanted to create a podcast so he could share that gift with others. With the help of Ascension Press and Bible scholar Jeff Cavins, the “Bible in a Year ” podcast was born. The program follows a reading plan inspired by The Great Adventure Bible Timeline, developed by Cavins. Instead of simply reading the Bible from beginning to end, the format connects the Old Testament to the New Testament in such a way as to better reveal “the big picture of salvation history.” A typical episode in the beginning of the year will include two readings from the Old Testament, a psalm, and conclude with a reflection on the reading by Fr. Mike.
At the beginning of each podcast, Fr. Mike promises that listeners will “encounter God’s voice and live life through the lens of scripture.” As he unpacks the meaning of the text, he sometimes ties the readings to situations listeners may be facing in their lives, such as infertility, problems in relationships, and struggles with faith.
He says that he has heard from many listeners about how living with a “biblical worldview” has changed their lives.
“Many of us are distracted and distressed by the battles we face everyday in the Church, in the culture and in our country,” said Fr. Mike at an Ascension press event last fall.
“By the grace of God, this podcast has helped nearly a half-million people rediscover a biblical worldview – a worldview of hope in God’s love and Divine will. People of all walks of life have shared testimonies about overcoming addictions, returning to the sacraments or converting to Catholicism, renewing marriages and many more incredible stories.”
The daily podcast episodes, which run about 22 minutes long, can be started at any time, and can be found on any podcast app or on Ascension’s Bible in a Year YouTube channel.
Watch the CBS Evening News interview with Fr. Mike below: