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Kris McGregor, executive director of Discerning Hearts, a website featuring Catholic podcasts on evangelization and spiritual formation, works in her production studio in Omaha Jan. 25. MIKE MAY/STAFF

Archbishop featured in new podcast lineup at Discerning Hearts

Archbishop George J. Lucas will explore the relevance of Catholic doctrine and practice in a new series of podcasts and radio broadcasts titled “Why it Matters.”
 
The half-hour programs will air Mondays at 10 a.m. beginning Feb. 19 on Spirit Catholic Radio and as podcasts beginning Feb. 16 on the Discerning Hearts website, discerninghearts.com, said Kris McGregor, executive director of the free online resource for evangelization and spiritual formation.
 
The archbishop’s series is one of several new programs from a variety of local and national sources planned for this year, she said.
 
Throughout the year, Archbishop Lucas will examine the parts of the Mass and their meaning, the sacraments, Catholic social teaching and other topics, she said, “examining what we do as Catholics, and why it matters.”
 
“Archbishop Lucas loves teaching and helping people understand the faith,” McGregor said, and is not hesitant to address topics currently at the forefront of the culture, such as same-sex marriage.
 
In the archbishop’s previous series of podcasts for Discerning Hearts, on the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults, “he has touched hearts around the world,” she said, garnering expressions of gratitude from people in Iran, India, France and Vietnam, to name a few.
 
The new program will feature an interview format with McGregor as moderator, and include a wide range of subjects. “The mysteries of our faith are endless,” she said.
 
The idea for the series originated in conversations the archbishop has had, including listening sessions held around the archdiocese in recent years to assess the spiritual needs of the faithful, she said.
 
“He has listened with a very discerning ear, and this is his opportunity to explain, one-on-one with the listener, to respond to and address those needs,” McGregor said.
 
In addition to the archbishop’s podcasts, Discerning Hearts offers programs by numerous local and national figures – the majority produced with McGregor as moderator – addressing spiritual topics. They include nearly 30 audio series and hundreds of stand-alone programs for a total of more than 2,900 audio files, and the number is growing, McGregor said.
 
After a long career in radio, McGregor used her education in Catholic theology and experience in ministry to found Discerning Hearts as a nonprofit apostolate in 2011. Her husband, Bruce, is program director for Spirit Catholic Radio in Omaha.
 
One of Discerning Hearts’ most popular programs is author and EWTN program host Father Timothy Gallagher’s series on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, she said. 
 
Another popular current series is the “Seeking Truth Catholic Bible Study,” with Sharon Doran of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha, which McGregor said has touched many people.
 
New offerings will include a series with Father Gallagher on the life and legacy of St. Therese of Lisieux, and two series with Anthony Lilles, associate professor of theology at St. John’s Seminary in Los Angeles: one on St. Elizabeth of the Trinity and the other on St. Teresa of Avila’s “Interior Castle,” she said.
 
 “We also have Catholic social teaching by Deacon Omar Gutierrez of the Omaha archdiocese, who has done groundbreaking work in this area, and which has gotten recognition around the world,” she said.
 
This year, Deacon Gutierrez and McGregor will expand his series, titled “Regnum Novum,” with additional podcasts.
 
Overall, the programs guide people to a deeper experience of spiritual formation through the recorded word, McGregor said. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Faith that comes through listening pierces through the veil,” she said.
 
“There’s something about listening and hearing that’s very personal, so Catholic radio has been a very important instrument to evangelize and get people excited about the faith,” McGregor said.
 
And podcasts offer a unique way for people to take those messages with them, downloading them to their phones to listen to anywhere, she said.
 
“I can’t tell you the number of people who have told me they go to sleep every night listening to these podcasts, listening to them over and over until it really sinks in.”

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