New York | The podcast of an American Catholic priest “Bible in a Year” has been at the top of downloads in the United States for several days and now has 4.3 million downloads in two weeks, to everyone’s surprise.
The voice of “Bible in a Year” is charismatic father Mike Schmitz, a 40-year-old Hollywood actor known for his videos on the YouTube channel “Ascension Presents”, which has 471,000 subscribers.
The 365-episode podcast, last uploaded on December 31, is a revamped full Bible reading. The story is refocused around 14 books, which gives it greater narrative coherence.
The other books (the Bible has 73 in this Catholic version) are inserted during the reading.
According to the spokesperson for Ascension, a Catholic publishing and educational materials company, “Bible in a Year” topped podcast downloads just 48 hours after it went live on January 1.
“It meets a need,” Lauren Joyce said of the program, which currently hits the heavyweight pawn of American podcast like “The Daily” of the New York Times or “The Joe Rogan Experience”.
Chaplain of the University of Minnesota at Duluth campus, Father Schmitz had the idea for the podcast last spring, in the midst of the first wave of Covid-19.
For Lauren Joyce, the success of “Bible in a Year” can be explained in particular by the pandemic and the sometimes limited reception capacity of places of worship.
Many older people, in particular, “cannot go to church because of the virus,” she says.
Organizing the podcast around the 14 books also provides a more accessible entry point for people interested in the Bible, but who have so far been “intimidated” by the Old and New Testaments, according to Lauren Joyce.
While not new, religious podcasts have so far only represented a niche in this rapidly developing universe.