Fr Josh Johnson, perhaps America’s best-known Black Catholic priest, is taking his popular “Ask Fr. Josh” podcast to YouTube—namely, the #1 English-language Catholic channel in the world.
The news came earlier this fall from Ascension Press, which boasts over 600,000 subscribers on the video-sharing platform and topped global podcast charts earlier this year with its “Bible In a Year” podcast from Fr Mike Schmitz.
Johnson himself is by far the most popular African-American Catholic priest on social media, with more than 33,000 followers, and serves as vocations director for the Diocese of Baton Rouge as well as chaplain for Louisiana State University, the Louisiana Knights of Peter Claver, and Cristo Rey Franciscan High School.
He will appear on the Ascension channel twice monthly for a video version of his podcast, which Ascension launched in audio format in 2018.
“While he has made cameo appearances previously… this new show will be Fr. Josh’s first regular engagement on the platform,” the network said in a press release on October 20th.
Johnson’s features on the channel date back to 2016 and mostly focused on prayer and adoration (the topic of his popular book released last year), while his podcast runs the gamut, fielding questions on Christian basics, Catholic doctrine, faith and science, social justice, and a number of episodes reciting unique versions of the Rosary.
He has released four video episodes so far, with the first—on the Catholic history of Halloween—notching 18,000 views in its first 24 hours. It has since topped 66,000, making it one of the most-watched Ascension videos of the year.
“The purpose of this show is for me to listen to people’s questions,” Johnson said in the press release, “to pray with them, study about the topics, and to hopefully respond in such a way that will help my viewers grow their relationships with God, with the Church, and with the wider community.”
“As Catholics, we have questions and sometimes we don’t know where to go to get a good, healthy response. This question-and-answer show is here to serve that need.”
Ascension notes the two versions of the show will run independently, with the audio podcast covering multiple questions per week, while the less frequent video offering will “dive more deeply into a single query”.
Questions can be submitted for the show via the podcast webpage, and anonymous entries are permitted.
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).