Shepherd in studio: Archbishop Vigneron launches monthly podcast on life, faith

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron smiles during a recording of the first episode of the “Eyes on Jesus” podcast in early September. The monthly podcast series will feature the archbishop and co-hosts Michael Chamberland and Mary Wilkerson talking about life, evangelization and timely news topics, as well as questions from listeners. (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

'Eyes on Jesus' podcast will allow listeners to get to know their archbishop 'on a personal level,' says co-host

Listen to the first episode of 'Eyes on Jesus' here

DETROIT — Catholics who want to get to know their chief shepherd a little better will have that opportunity, thanks to a new podcast featuring Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron.

The archbishop’s new podcast, called “Eyes on Jesus,” debuted Sept. 23 and will be produced monthly by the Archdiocese of Detroit. Listeners can tune in through the Unleash the Gospel website, as well as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Fireside. 

The title of the podcast takes its cues from Archbishop Vigneron’s episcopal motto, Aspicientes in Iesum, which means “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”

“It’s kind of a riff on my episcopal motto from Hebrews 12:2, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,” Archbishop Vigneron told Detroit Catholic in an interview about the new podcast. “It’s meant to be a signature saying for me, and I think it’s really important that’s what (the podcast) is all about.”

The podcast is co-hosted by Michael Chamberland and Mary Wilkerson, co-founders of BOLD Ministries, and produced by Ron Pangborn.

Chamberland, evangelization director at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Farmington, and Wilkerson, a stay-at-home mom and parishioner at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Livonia, are also the producers and hosts of the “Certifiably Catholic” podcast with Fr. Mario Amore.

Co-hosts Mary Wilkerson and Michael Chamberland, right, record the first episode of the “Eyes on Jesus” podcast with Archbishop Vigneron in the archdiocese's podcast studio. 

“The communications team at the archdiocese contacted Mary and I and pitched this idea of a podcast with the archbishop,” Chamberland said. “They wanted something that was very conversational, an opportunity for people to get to know the archbishop on a more personal level — just him being himself, speaking off the cuff. We thought a podcast would be a great way to do it.”

Each episode will run approximately 30-35 minutes and feature conversation with the archbishop about life, evangelization, timely news topics and catechesis.

The first episode, for example, focuses on the recent Pew Research study showing approximately 70 percent of self-described Catholics lack faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

“He’s an excellent teacher, and we wanted him to have the opportunity to share from a bishop’s perspective how lamentable (the Pew study) is, but also what the Eucharist is and to help people to better understand all that,” Chamberland said.

Each episode also will feature a question-and-answer segment, in which listeners can submit questions for the archbishop via email or social media.

Archbishop Vigneron said the questions run the gamut from the personal to the philosophical, and he’s happy to answer them all.

“Some of the questions are just asking about my personality and who I am as an individual, and some other questions are more about the faith,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “For me, the most important consideration is, ‘What’s going to be the most useful for building up the body of Christ?’”

With the “Eyes on Jesus” podcast, Archbishop Vigneron joins a growing list of podcasting bishops, from popular shows such as Bishop Robert Barron’s “Word on Fire” to local-focused shows such as Arlington, Va., Bishop Michael Burbidge’s “Walk Humbly” podcast.

It's also the second podcast offered by the Archdiocese of Detroit, which launched the “Open Door Policy” podcast with Fr. Stephen Pullis and Danielle Center last fall.

Listeners can submit questions for Archbishop Vigneron to answer on the “Eyes on Jesus” podcast by emailing [email protected]

Archbishop Vigneron said he became convinced a podcast was an effective means of outreach, given others’ success in the new media landscape.

“The Church is already engaged in (podcasting) in a lot of ways,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “I know a lot of bishops are already doing it. I think it’s something that’s going to grow even more.”

As the principal pastor of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Archbishop Vigneron said he feels it's important for him to “articulate the vision we're pursuing in our effort to be engaged in the new evangelization.”

“We’ll talk about issues that will really help the listeners to be engaged with their own efforts with evangelization,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “When we’re doing evangelization, it’s always twofold: it’s about direct evangelization, but it’s also about evangelizing the evangelizers.”

The goal, he added, is “to use social media in the most effective way I can in order to be in touch with as many people as possible.”

With 1.2 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit, the podcast will allow the archbishop to be present to many more people than would a lecture series or catechetical program, Chamberland added.

“I think it will hit a younger echelon of Catholics, and my hope is that they’re encouraged by it, that they feel a further affinity and closeness and they see the prayerfulness and humility of our archbishop,” Chamberland said.

“I think it will give people a better understanding of how the Church functions, as well as their place in the Church. We’re trying to get people off the bench, as Unleash the Gospel says.”

To submit your question for Archbishop Vigneron to answer during the next episode of the “Eyes on Jesus” podcast, email [email protected]