Fr. Mike Schmitz
Hearts and minds shaped by something eternal
A Catholic priest’s 2021 Bible podcast debuts at #1
Even before it was launched in January 2021, Fr. Mike Schmitz’s “The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)” became the #1-ranked podcast overall on Apple Podcasts. That’s quite a feat for anyone, let alone a Catholic priest whose message is the traditional, orthodox Christianity of two millennia.
Fr. Mike, 47, is a youthful, handsome, athletic, all-American guy. His primary position is as chaplain to the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, and he knows how to connect naturally and sincerely with young people. Thence comes his incredible appeal to the “YouTube generation” of podcast watchers who are flocking to his 365 daily episodes of Bible passages and commentary.
But Fr. Mike was not always consumed with zeal for the Faith. As a youth, he was in fact indifferent to it; “I would do whatever I could to avoid going to Mass,” he says. But he had “an encounter with Christ through confession” that changed him. He began to realize that he needed Jesus, and it led him down the road of asking what God wanted of him.
Though he made a detour through the movie business (he made the final round of auditions for the part of Robin in the 1995 movie Batman Forever), the road eventually took him to ordination in 2003 for the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, where he later became the director of youth ministry for the diocese. In fact, his unique talent for reaching youth — conveying the unvarnished truths of the Catholic faith while “speaking their language” — was so effective that Ascension Press’s video arm, Ascension Presents, asked him in 2015 to start making brief, youth-oriented YouTube video talks on Catholic topics.
His videos, always based on traditional Catholic teaching, have covered topics ranging from “The Secret about Sex and Holiness” and “Why Watching MMA [Mixed Martial Arts] Strips Human Dignity” to “Why St. Thérèse and her ‘Little Way’ Will Change Your Life” and “Can Someone Be Denied Holy Communion?”
Fr. Mike Schmitz’ new podcast hits #1 on iTunes, toppling NPR, NBC, iHeart Radio and more
And viewers responded. His enduring popularity on YouTube, and as a speaker at Catholic events, led Ascension to propose a new idea: “The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz).” The series of 365 daily Bible readings, reflections and prayer last 20-25 minutes, and when completed, daily viewers will have read the entire Bible along with Fr. Mike in one year. The podcast debuted on January 1, 2021 in the number one spot on Apple Podcasts, Apple’s popular streaming service and video hosting platform, and even in December, as the series neared the end of its year-long run, it remained in the top 25.
Fr. Mike explains why he took on the project: “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. 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.”
In October, Fr. Mike was voted one of the “Top Five Podcast Influencers of the Year” in the People’s Choice Podcast Awards. And this is his most basic message: “The number one thing that every human being has to do is to become a person of prayer,” he explains.
“You might not know what God wants you to do next week, next year, next decade, but you do know what He wants you to do now.
“He wants you to pray, He wants you to obey the commandments, and He wants you to love your neighbor.
“I can’t let what I don’t know that God wants me to do become the excuse for not doing what I do know that He wants me to do.”