Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
(L-r) Brent Masters and John and Amber Lynch record a segment of "The Catholic Cast's" 75th show in a room, turned studio, in the Lynches' Mableton home. In addition to discussions like struggles with fertility, gun control and steps to curing Catholic boredom, John does the Sunday readings with a reflection, Amber presents the saint of the week and Brent does the "Catholic culture minute." All three Internet radio personalities are members of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Smyrna.


‘The Catholic Cast’ takes faith to online audience as podcasting grows

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published February 19, 2016

ATLANTA—Their studio is a converted bedroom where family photos hang on the walls. The family black Lab, Kelly, chews a bone nearby. The three friends who make up “The Catholic Cast,” Brent Masters and John and Amber Lynch, lean into their microphones to talk about the often-heard complaint: Mass is boring. The trio shares six tips on enriching Mass for Catholics in the pews.

And then the hour-long show takes a turn toward humor as the husband and wife compete to learn if they are smarter than a Catholic fifth-grader.

“Noah sent out two animals from the ark. One was a dove. What was the other animal Noah sent out?” asked Masters.

Amber Lynch chimes in with crow. Masters accepts it as a substitute for raven.

“Amber’s got a point up on you,” he tells her husband.

It’s episode No. 75 of “The Catholic Cast,” one local effort to harness on-demand technology to spread the faith beyond the church doors.

“We do see this as a way to share our faith as young Catholics. It’s gratifying to know it can help someone else,” said Amber Lynch, 37.

Their audience is relatively small, but they are encouraged there are listeners in places like China and Vietnam, where Catholics are few. “I picture families listening with darkened windows,” said Lynch, who does the show after working all day as an occupational therapist.

The Atlanta Catholic community is no stranger to digital tools to share the faith. Catholics, on their own initiative, produce podcasts—digital audio or video programs stored online that can be downloaded to a media player. Tech-savvy Catholics in the archdiocese helped to start and have twice hosted the international Catholic New Media Conference where the Internet, social media, blogging and podcasts as part of the New Evangelization are a mainstay of the conversation.

“There’s really no one-size-fits-all Catholic podcast, which is what makes podcasting so great,” said Greg Willits, who started recording an online show over a decade ago with his wife, Jennifer, when they lived in Conyers.

He is now executive director of the Evangelization and Family Life Office for the Archdiocese of Denver. He estimates their shows have been downloaded more than 7 million times since the first show in March 2005. They currently produce “Greg and Jennifer’s Adventures in Imperfect Living.”

Podcast birthed on golf course

“The Catholic Cast” grew from a desire by the trio three years ago to share their faith. The idea of a streaming show was born on a golf course where discussion of it distracted Masters and John Lynch. They are longtime friends from St. Thomas the Apostle Church youth group.

“It took about three holes to figure out this golf day wasn’t about golf,” Masters said. The two that day sketched out the first 20 shows with Masters relying on his know-how from studying broadcasting. Lynch’s job as a TV sports producer shaped the format. Amber Lynch was the least experienced but later joined the show after she discussed infertility challenges and the audience welcomed having a female point of view. (That broadcast remains one of their most listened-to shows.)

The early attempts were recorded for practice at the University of West Georgia, where Masters, 26, studied broadcasting and co-hosted a sports show on the student radio station. They named the show “Bible Bros,” but it was quickly shelved. Now the friends, who all attend St. Thomas the Apostle in Smyrna, record the show in the Lynches’ Mableton home. They do it with about $1,200 worth of equipment. It is broadcast live and stored online at, where people can download it.

According to the website, “The Catholic Cast” has been listened to 4,700 times. The show’s tagline is: “Three joyful, energetic Catholics sharing their faith experiences and how they apply their faith to their daily lives.”

The group tweaked its format, still promoting Catholicism, but knitting the show tighter.

“We’re really at our best right now. We’re all passionate about the topics,” said Masters, who works in the film industry.

Topics on the one-hour show are broad. For John Lynch, the three years has taught him the best way is “letting God lead and letting it evolve.”

Priest has “Ardor,” seminarians a Northern view

Online audio is trending higher as “digital natives”—those young enough to have always known the new platforms of the digital era—rely on smartphones for nearly everything. Increasing numbers of millennials, who reached adulthood since 2000, listen to streaming news and music on phones. And it happens that’s an age group where only 16 percent identify as Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center. The hope is these Catholic programs reach an audience with messages and stories of a lived faith.

Sitting in his rectory office, Father Dennis Dorner Jr., parochial vicar at Church of the Transfiguration, Marietta, edits a video presentation that provides an explanation of his Ardor Project. The Ardor Project, a vision the priest conceived while he was in seminary, is a platform that embraces various aspects of technology (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube) while using video as a primary means to bring the Catholic faith to the masses. Photo By Michael Alexander

Sitting in his rectory office, Father Dennis Dorner Jr., parochial vicar at Church of the Transfiguration, Marietta, edits a video presentation that provides an explanation of his Ardor Project. The Ardor Project, a vision the priest conceived while he was in seminary, is a platform that embraces various aspects of technology (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube) while using video as a primary means to bring the Catholic faith to the masses. Photo By Michael Alexander

Church leaders recognize that. In the Atlanta Archdiocese’s Pastoral Plan, technology is seen as a key way to share the faith and as a tool to erase distances.

That’s part of the reason Father Dennis Dorner, a parochial vicar at Transfiguration Church, Marietta, has figured out his way around the technology. He is launching The Ardor Project “to provoke a greater understanding of our faith (and) showcase Catholicism’s beauty.”

“But it’s also coming from me, so it will be a little less formal, perhaps a little irreverent but never offensive, and I want to keep it fun,” Father Dorner, 35, said in a Twitter exchange.

Part podcast and part video, The Ardor Project is something the priest has been trying to pull together. He’s paying for this project out of his own pocket after seed money from a parishioner got him started. He’s been inspired by the podcasts he listens to such as TED Talks and The Nerdist, along with “Word on Fire” by Bishop Robert Barron.

He envisions it including a sacramental catechetical series, “Growing With Ardor,” with videos for parents and children, brief podcasts about the faith, “Brewing Ardor,” and video blogging, “Living With Ardor.”

As a parish priest, Father Dorner said a mission is to teach the faith, and if the effort doesn’t catch on and attract an audience outside Marietta, it will serve the parish community.

Atlanta seminarian Michael Metz, attending Mundelein Seminary in Illinois, is part of a two-year-old podcast called “Three Dogs North.”

“It’s cool to see how the Lord is using the three of us on the podcast by simply asking us to share the things that bring us life,” he said about his two seminarian co-hosts.

Podcasting tools are commonplace now, a natural way to share faith, he said.

“Cell phones, iPads, desktops, laptops, everyone has one; it’s practically a part of the person. We can now infuse people with the word of God through these tools. That’s one thing I love about Christianity, Jesus can baptize just about anything and use it for the Gospel, even cellphones,” he said in an email.

“Trust in God’s call”

Podcast listeners grew to approximately 46 million a month in 2015 from approximately 39 million monthly users in 2014. One-third of all Americans 12 years and older say they have listened to at least one podcast, reported Edison Research, a polling firm.

However, the work hasn’t gotten easier with time for those with a religious message. As podcasting has grown in popularity, it challenges Catholic podcasts to find an audience, Willits said, so it’s important for Catholic audiences to support and spread the word when they find quality Catholic podcasts. One of the leaders in linking and promoting affiliated Catholic new media programs is

“The fact is, with as many Catholics walking around with smartphones and listening to podcasts through their computer, it is an impossible task to list qualities that’ll hit across the board,” Willits said in an email.

“If you’re a Catholic who likes movies, there’s a podcast for you. If you’re a Catholic who likes deep theology, that’s there, too. If you’re just looking for people who are struggling through life but trying their best to grow closer to God along the way, there are shows for you, too,” he said.

Also, while podcasting and online listening is growing at a fast pace, the majority of people continue to listen to traditional AM/FM radio. While some are using the Internet, others, like St. Monica Church, Duluth, invested in building a low-power FM station, called Ablaze Radio, 98.1 FM, to reach commuters with the Catholic faith 24 hours a day.

“The Catholic Cast” has started to be recognized. It has broadcast live from the Eucharistic Congress and carried a 45-minute interview with Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory about the 2015 Pastoral Plan. For the local jubilee celebration of the Vatican II interfaith document “Nostra Aetate,” they set up an ad-hoc studio at the Ferst Center at Georgia Tech, where they interviewed Jews and Catholics about ties between the faiths.

“It felt like we arrived,” said John Lynch, 40.

“To go and do that event, and successfully put out not only a product, but a good product we can be proud of, was really big for me,” said Masters. “That was a launching point for the show having found its voice.”

As for the future, the next year is going to be about promoting the show, trying to build a Georgia audience.

“It’s so awesome to see God working through all of us,” Amber Lynch said, sitting on her living room couch. “Trust in God’s call, because three years ago never, ever, ever, would I have expected I’d be on a weekly Internet radio show. There’s no way. I would have said, no please. But God said, ‘Oh, you silly child, I have better plans for you.’ It’s a fun ride.”