Priest podcaster inspires parishes to study the Catechism

This is a screenshot from St. John Vianney Parish-Bettendorf’s website, which features reflections from “Catechism in a Year” program participants.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Father Rich Adam knows the Catechism of the Catholic Church, using it for reference and citation throughout his priesthood. The pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf says he has developed a new appreciation for the Catechism while listening to a popular priest podcaster who is taking listeners on a journey through the “Catechism in a Year.”

“In many people’s eyes, Father Mike Schmitz is a rock star in his Bible in a Year podcasts. I’ve heard it said that he was like the (Archbishop) Fulton Sheen of today bringing a light and understanding of the Catholic faith,” Father Adam said. “Well, Father Mike has done just as much for the Catechism in a Year podcasts.”

Although Father Adam uses the Catechism often, he has never done “a thorough reading, like a book, starting in the beginning and actually reading it. My own understanding and respect for the Catechism has grown significantly and I’m hoping many in the parish will grow as well in their own appreciation of the Catholic faith and what a gift it really is.”


He invited parishioners to participate in the Catechism in a Year initiative that the parish’s pastoral associate for evangelization, Mitchell Narvasa, developed after listening to an enthusiastic conversation between Father Adam and a staffer about the podcast. “I sat there thinking, ‘Wow, how awesome would it be for the whole parish to hear how this podcast has already impacted these two,’” Narvasa said. “From that thought, our CIY Reflections were born!”

A rotation of parishioners listening to Catechism in a Year, which Father Schmitz launched Jan. 1, write short reflections based on what grabs their attention from the Catechism for that podcast segment. Narvasa posts the reflections on the parish website twice a month, includes a synopsis in the parish bulletin and a one-line quote on social media and on the parish’s big-screen monitor. The social media posts guide viewers to the website reflection. To read the reflections on the St. John Vianney website, go to:

He hopes people “read the real testimonies of how God is shaping lives through prayer and study and that it will lead them to take up the practice of listening to the Catechism in a Year.” The podcast segments to date are available at

Katie Byrne, 24, of Minneapolis — her family back home belongs to St. John Vianney Parish — reflected on a paragraph (177) dealing with truth. “God does not invite us to lead a Christian life just


for the sake of keeping us from or depriving us of something, but he invites us to live a Christian life so that we can live joyfully and in such a way that is for our ultimate good. We aren’t always the best at truly determining what is for our greatest good, but we have a loving Father in heaven who deeply knows our hearts and can lovingly guide us on a path to our greatest good,” she reflected.

“I chose to write the reflection because God has been there for me in the highest and lowest points of my life, and I want to share the truths he has shown me in those moments,” said Byrne, who attends St. Lawrence Newman Center in Minneapolis. “Additionally, I think it’s important to hear from young adults who love the Catholic faith so that other young adults can be inspired to grow in their faith by seeing someone in their state of life that desires to know Christ.”

The Catechism “gives clear answers about our faith in a way that is compelling, beautiful, rich and sound,” Narvasa says. “It is full of God’s word in Scripture, quotes from the saints, writings from the early Church Fathers and so much more. It’s a perfect example of the kind of Church we are called to be according to Vatican II and the most recent popes.”

Iowa City study group
A discussion group has formed at St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City to explore the Catechism in a Year (CIY), based on the popular podcast by Father Mike Schmitz.

“We are really enjoying our discussion. It was tough for me to establish an outline and format for the discussion at first because I have never read the Catechism cover to cover myself,” said Stephanie Zeising, the parish’s director of sacramental preparation.

She connected with a CIY Facebook group and learned about “The Study Guide for the U.S. Adult Catholic Catechism” by Jem Sullivan. “It covers the Catechism in 36 chapters. It gives me a template to follow so we can have one meeting a week for 36 weeks. Even though the pace and timing will be different from Father Mike’s, the review will be a reinforcement of what we’ve heard in the podcast no matter when we do it. The group has 12 members currently and people are still expressing interest.”

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