Spend a minute with God — now there’s an offer that’s hard to refuse.
That’s the purpose of The God Minute podcast, a little something Vincentian Father Ron Hoye and a friend came up with about three years ago as a simple, once-a-week tool to help people with their prayer life.
It’s exploded since then.
The priests’ side project — a 10-minute reflection with Scripture and music — is now a seven-day-a-week effort involving 11 contributors and a nearly full-time effort reaching more than 30,000 people subscribed. Father Hoye is now seeking to hire a coordinator of the project, so he has time to focus on his ministry.
Based in St. Louis, Father Hoye’s real job is to lead parish missions across the country. “One of the things I kept hearing from people was the need and desire to grow deeper in their faith and love of Jesus, which of course means prayer,” he said.
He asked people what challenges they had in developing their prayer life and learned they needed something fairly quick and meaningful. “They were looking for something more captivating,” he explained.
After hearing about this need so many times, Father Hoye and Father Michael Pavlakovich began recording quick reflections. “If people want to listen to it and find it interesting, great. If not, fine,” Father Hoye reasoned.
More and more people started listening and enjoying the podcast, so it expanded to two times a week, then more times and more people doing the reflections. “Now it’s becoming overwhelming,” he said with a laugh. “It’s now just a ministry unto itself.”
Ruth Burton of Good Shepherd Parish in Huntsville, Alabama, listens to the podcast daily, usually in the evening. “The God Minute is the highlight of my day,” Burton said. “This is a real good method to get in some prayer time.”
Burton especially enjoys the typical Monday, Tuesday and Thursday podcast format: music and an introduction, and a regular style of prayer based on the Liturgy of the Hours including psalms, Scripture and a short reflection. The Our Father and a blessing followed by music concludes the 10-minute prayer. On Wednesdays, instead of Scripture to base the reflection, the focus is on how God’s Word came to us in random encounters with divine grace. Fridays are all about the music, with a spiritual song leading the prayer. On Saturday, prayer and reflection is focused upon our Blessed Mother, Mary. On Sunday, one of the priests shares his reflection on the Sunday Gospel.
An example of one of the prayer podcasts is the one on Memorial Day, which began with music from “America the Beautiful” and included Father Hoye praying in thanksgiving for military service members who have given their lives for our freedoms and way of life. He read from 1 John 3:16, “This is how we know what love is. Jesus laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
The COVID-19 pandemic enabled Father Hoye to devote more time to The God Minute podcast and make it what it is today. His lineup of contributors includes other St. Louisans: Sister Mary Grace Augustine, a Carmelite Sister of the Divine Heart of Jesus; Sister Carol Schumer, a Daughter of Charity and spiritual advisor for the Ladies of Charity; Peggy Visconti, director of leadership development for the Archdiocese of St. Louis; and Javier Orozco, executive director of human dignity and multicultural affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
“It’s been such a blessing,” Father Hoye said. The contributors represent the diversity of the Church, different cultures and experiences.
The reflections express a positive, hopeful tone. “You can’t help but be positive; even in the midst of difficulty there is a banquet the Lord will lead us to,” he explained. “I always talk to the reflectors about bringing the hopeful piece of the Scripture and being in relationship with Jesus, and then if possible try to leave the reflection with a little challenge of something during the course of the day that might turn someone closer to Jesus.”
He receives 35-40 emails a day on average from people responding to the podcasts. The music that’s included in the podcast is especially appreciated.
The length, 10 minutes, is just right. Even people who have spare time don’t want to listen to longer reflections, Father Hoye learned. The intention is to give people the impression that Father Hoye, Father Pavlakovich and the person giving the day’s reflection are in a chapel praying together.
The God Minute is branching out to video, and that requires much more equipment. Marketing efforts include a line of branded items such as T-shirts and coffee mugs. Once a year, a weeklong donation drive is conducted. The God Minute has a list of 30,000 subscribers who receive the podcast delivered via email every day and periodic updates. The number of listeners is much higher because The God Minute is also available through social media and the website, www.thegodminute.org.
“One of the things I kept hearing from people was the need and desire to grow deeper in their faith and love of Jesus, which of course means prayer.”
>> The God Minute
The God Minute podcast is a project of Catholic TeamWorks, a Catholic ministry of evangelization and renewal sponsored by the Congregation of the Mission, Vincentian priests and brothers.
The majority of listeners download an app to pray on their phone wherever they go. There and on the website are the podcast as well as videos of prayer devotions, videos of sacred places for deep contemplation, weekly Sunday podcast videos, music selection videos that lead the Friday reflections, a Marian apparitions video series and other prayer resources.
To listen to the podcast (with a link to the app) or other presentations, subscribe, make a contribution to the effort, visit www.thegodminute.org.