WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CNS) — On Dec. 31, nearly half a million people will complete a yearlong journey of reading the entire Catholic Bible with “The Bible in a Year” podcast.
On Jan. 1 Dominican Father Sergio Serrano and Father Dempsey Acosta will duplicate this journey with “The Bible in a Year” podcast in Spanish.
“As Spanish speakers, we are continually drawn to the stories that our grandparents and family pass down to us orally,” Father Serrano said in a news release from Ascension, a multimedia Catholic publisher based in West Chester, which announced announcing the new “La Biblia en un Año” podcast.
“We will be able to listen every day to the great story that God wants to tell us; the beautiful story that will captivate us. Many of us have waited a long time for it to be told in this way,” said the priest, who is director of the Hispanic Apostolate for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
Ascension, a multimedia Catholic publisher based in West Chester, is the producer of the podcast in English and is working with the Juan Diego Network on the production of “La Biblia en un Año.”
Father Serrano will host each daily episode of “La Biblia en un Año” and narrate all of the biblical readings. Father Acosta, associate professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, will appear as a featured guest on 16 special episodes marking key points in the biblical journey.
“La Biblia en un Año” will use the same popular format and reading plan as its English-language counterpart, in which well-known YouTube priest Father Mike Schmitz read every verse of the entire Catholic Bible in 365 days, using a reading plan based on Scripture scholar Jeff Cavins’ Great Adventure Bible Timeline.
The reading plan organizes the 14 narrative books of the Bible into 12 periods to help readers understand how they relate to one another and to God’s plan for salvation.
Father Schmitz, a priest of the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, and a popular Catholic speaker and author, and Cavins created the original podcast with the backing of Ascension.
The show became the No. 1 podcast in all categories in the United States within 48 hours of its January 2021 launch, remained the No. 1 podcast in religion and spirituality for most of the year, and expected 170 million downloads and 4 billion total listening minutes by the end of 2021.
Ascension said its website and social media pages are decorated with over 30,000 five-star reviews “and countless testimonials from listeners who have experienced deep conversions, renewed marriages and even healing from addictions through encountering God in his word via the podcast.”
“The impact of ‘The Bible in a Year’ has been simply stunning,” said Ascension’s president and CEO, Jonathan Strate. “We were so humbled to see God do great things with the ‘loaves and fish’ we offered in this podcast. To see nearly half a million people read the Bible cover to cover, many of them for the first time, was such an honor.”
“We have great hope as we bring this podcast that God has used to change lives and save souls to a new Spanish-speaking audience in 2022,” Strate added.
“Many people have told me that reading the Bible ‘cover to cover’ is very difficult,” said Father Acosta. “The great majority have explained that it’s not necessarily the readings themselves, but that many times they can’t find the context or the logic of the passages.”
“You have to know the history of ancient Israel and early Christianity to be able to put what you’re reading in chronological order,” he said. “This is not an easy task for someone who works and has a busy life.”
The podcast presents a “historical organization of the Bible” and “a proclamation of the Divine Word throughout the history of humanity,” the priest added. “In this proclamation, each listener will participate in the story in which God always speaks to human beings out of love.”
José Manuel De Urquidi, founder of the Juan Diego Network, called the new podcast “a great opportunity for Hispanics around the world.”
“From the hands of experts, but in a very simple and personal format, listeners will be able to rediscover the living word of God that has acted not only in history, but continues to work in the hearts of people and in the world today,” he added.
The Juan Diego Network was a winner of the 2020 Our Sunday Visitor Innovation Prize for groundbreaking work in bringing Catholic audio content to Latino audiences.
Because “La Biblia en un Año” podcast will follow the same reading plan as “The Bible in a Year” podcast, parishes and schools with English- and Spanish-language groups will be able to read the Bible “in sync” together during 2022 and beyond, Ascension noted in its news release.
The free reading plan for “La Biblia en un Año” will be available at www.AscensionPress.com/LaBiblia, and the same resource for “The Bible in a Year” is available at www.AscensionPress.com/BibleInAYear.
All podcast episodes are free and available on Ascension’s website and all major podcast platforms.