A new Lilly Endowment grant propels America Media efforts on preaching
America Media has received an additional $250,000 grant through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative.
With the support of the endowment, America Media focused on three unique projects: the “Preach” podcast, which helps Christian preachers develop their craft and reach parishioners more effectively; a video series titled “One Minute Homilies” for The Jesuit Post, and a mobile app that will guide preachers through reflections on the weekly readings.
“Responding to the needs of the church, our goal is to continue to provide resources for more compelling and engaging preaching,” said Sam Sawyer, S.J., America editor in chief. “As our community members seek to deepen their relationship with God, these initiatives further support our role as a media ministry,” he said.
“We are grateful to Lilly Endowment, Inc., for its investment in our work.”
“Preach,” which launched in May,” has already reached more than 95,500 downloads across streaming platforms, a testament to the eagerness of listeners to discover great homilies from preachers across the United States. Additionally, America’s entire podcast franchise has achieved nearly 1.5 million downloads this year, another significant milestone for America Media’s mission to highlight excellent preaching and the best in Catholic thinking.
“Since launching ‘Preach,’ we have discovered that it is far more than a school of homiletics,” said the podcast’s host, Ricardo da Silva, S.J. “Importantly, the podcast serves as a ‘ministry of accompaniment,’ as my co-producer Maggi Van Dorn puts it.”
“Today’s preachers require more than instruction in preaching skills,” he said. “They need a platform to share their experiences of this ministry and bolster their passion for creating and delivering the most compelling homilies they can. As a young priest, I am invigorated to refine my craft and inspired by the dedication and best practices of the women and men I’ve met through my work as the host and producer of ‘Preach.’”
America Media assumed the publishing duties of The Jesuit Post in 2015 and assists in the distribution and production of its “One Minute Homilies” series. The videos offer counsel for preachers hoping to produce meaningful, succinct homilies, with topics ranging from “Learning the Attitude of Jesus” to “The Humility of Asking for Help.”
“The One-Minute Homily series by The Jesuit Post gives young Jesuits in formation the opportunity to practice preaching through short online videos,” said Tucker Redding, S.J., a producer of video and audio content for The Jesuit Post. “The Lilly Endowment grant makes it possible for us to include Jesuits in formation from across the United States, provide guidance for these young men and make these videos as professional as possible.”
The grant from Lilly Endowment allows The Jesuit Post team to bring together a group of young Jesuits a few times each year to the studio at America Media and it will help produce America Media’s next venture, “The Word: Scripture Reflections,” a mobile app currently in development.
Zac Davis, associate editor and senior director for digital strategy, sees the new app as a way to tie America’s publishing past to America Media’s future. “America is thrilled to develop a new app that will help both preachers and people in the pews alike reflect on the Mass readings,” he said. “Since 1943, The Word column has been a beloved part of the magazine’s offerings. This app will bring together all of our Scripture content in an easily accessible way for our readers, viewers and listeners.”