The Furnace aims at drawing people to the heart of Jesus
A Sydney priest’s podcast is reaching his listeners with homilies that pack a day’s worth of encouragement and inspiration into five minutes or less.
Fr Josh Miechels, a priest of the Emmanuel Community and an assistant priest at Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Fairfield has hit on a gap in local podcast offerings for scriptural reflections by a Catholic priest.
He recorded the first episode of his daily homily podcast The Furnace on 24 March, the day after churches were made to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as one way to nourish people’s need for scripture and prayer during a time of great uncertainty and even fear.
It’s now passed 4000 downloads. The name is a reference to St Gertrude the Great’s description of Jesus’s heart as a “glowing furnace of love”.
“People had prompted me to do a podcast before and I said no, but being in lockdown I figured I’d give it a go and see if it was any help to people who were distressed after churches were closed,” said Fr Miechels.
“I just wanted to provide some reassurance at that time, some presence of the Word of God, even if it was just in a brief simple way every day.”
“With everyone being so time poor I’ve been told that one of the big attractions is that it’s so short,” said Fr Miechels. “But people say it’s powerful enough to change their outlook for the day and give them hope and encouragement and a taste of the word of God.”
The podcast is also a good example of lay people and clergy using complementary talents to work together for the Church’s mission, he said. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with at least one person crediting it for his return to the Church, while some teachers are using the podcast in classrooms as an information or prayer resource.
The Furnace is part of a suite of podcasts on offer that are produced by the Archdiocese of Sydney. They also include This Catholic Life, a collaboration with the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, and the recently-launched Episcopal Podcast hosted by Bishop Richard Umbers.
In his own spare time, Fr Miechels said he sometimes listens to the other two, or to the podcasts by the US’ Bishop Robert Barron and Fr Mike Schmitz.
“What’s different about mine and the reason I like doing it is that it’s a simple, daily proclamation of the Word of God and that’s what I’m about as priest,” said Fr Miechels.
“The Word of God is always relevant, always close to the heart, always beautiful, always inspiring.”
Listen to the podcast on all digital platforms or at The Furnace website.