March 28, 2023 // Diocese
Belt of Truth Podcast Arms Laity to be Informed Spiritual Leaders
It’s tackled topics such as the intersection of faith and politics, the impact of spiritual wounds, and the fight to defend life. It’s featured guests such as Bishop Rhoades and internationally renowned Catholic speaker Jason Evert. It’s exceeded 10,000 downloads worldwide and has been downloaded in seven different countries.
And yet, despite the rapid success of the Belt of Truth podcast, host Robert Gregory just wants it to remain what it was originally created to be: a tool to help the lay faithful sharpen themselves in order to be effective spiritual leaders.
“What it’s really trying to do is bring our clergy and our bishop together and walk side by side with the laity, and really have a conversation about some of the key items in today’s world,” said Gregory, a parishioner at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne. “As someone who was poorly catechized and someone who is trying to fall madly in love with my faith, these are eye-opening conversations for me.”
Belt of Truth has been opening the eyes and hearts of its listeners ever since its inception in the midst of the pandemic. The fact that Gregory and co-creator Josh Bach of Indianapolis ever connected in the first place has both men convinced of the Holy Spirit’s handiwork. Back in 2021, Bach was meeting up with his friend Dave Brown, who had just attended his first Armor of God retreat.
“He was just glowing,” Bach recalled of Brown. “My retreat had been cancelled, and I was bummed. As soon as he said there was another [Armor of God] retreat coming up, within seconds I said, ‘How do I sign up?’ I went into that retreat knowing one person there, and I was quickly welcomed with open arms. It was like nothing I’ve experienced in my life.”
One of the men Bach befriended on the retreat was Gregory, who had helped start Armor of God in Fort Wayne as a lay movement designed to arm men to be the spiritual leaders God has called them to be. Bach approached Gregory with the desire to “capture the authentic aspect of this movement and the men that are pushing it.” His media background and previous work with podcasts led him to try that very medium with Gregory behind the mic.
“I literally knew nothing about podcasts,” Gregory admitted. “I wasn’t an avid listener and certainly didn’t understand anything regarding how to produce one.”
“He has a ton of raw talent,” Bach said of Gregory’s on-air presence. “He was good from the beginning but has really improved, and since then, we have become incredibly close friends. It’s a beautiful beginning, and its only just getting started.”
Nearly 50 episodes in, Belt of Truth is just as impressive in its production team as it is in its success. Bach drives up from Indianapolis about once a week with all of his sound equipment and meets with Gregory — usually in the St. Vincent church library — to record as many conversations with guests as they can. Bach then takes the recordings back home for editing before sending a proof to Nate Proulx in Fort Wayne for fine-tuning of the audio. Jason Nees of Our Sunday Visitor is responsible for uploading, developing, and placing the podcast on different platforms. Finally, Father Jay Horning, who serves as spiritual advisor, vets all episodes before their weekly release.
On some occasions, their chosen topic prompts a particular guest, while other times, the guest helps determine the topic. Either way, Gregory believes their conversations are guided by the Holy Spirit and designed to introduce relevant issues facing the Church today.
“I think we’ve become an on-ramp for people,” explained Gregory. “If we touch on a topic, like being docile to the Holy Spirit, it’s not a high-level theological conversation that we’re having — it’s probably more likely to be the first time that someone’s heard that conversation. It’s a way to kind of come on the ramp and learn more about a topic.”
Since its initial release in October of 2021, Belt of Truth has surged up national podcast rankings and now sits in the top 25 percent of download percentage in the country. Gregory and Bach attribute this success to the authenticity of their conversations, which touch everyone involved in the production.
“The benefit I receive from being a part of the storytelling process — at times, I’m fighting tears off because of the incredible beauty,” said Bach. “When I’m at home editing, I listen to every word and know that the Lord is a part of this, and that our Lord wants us to keep doing this. I think we’re all being called to do this to glorify His kingdom.”
That starts right here in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, where Bach and Gregory are committed to keeping the spotlight on Belt of Truth.
“We’re really hyper-focused on getting our house in order, and that means our diocese,” said Gregory. “We’re really trying to stay focused on the people, the ministries, the apostolates inside the diocese that we can speak to, and we’re unapologetic about that.”
“I really see the next few years really within the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese and never running out of beautiful content,” agreed Bach. “There’s just an incredible mass of wonderful stories.”
Still, the rigors of scheduling, recording, editing, and producing fresh content every week can certainly add up. Gregory said the positive reception he receives from listeners helps him push through the moments of fatigue. “When I bump into somebody at Mass or at an event, and they tell me how much that particular topic touched them or how they shared that with a family member and it was really something they needed to hear, it’s kind of that shot in the arm for me to keep going,” said Gregory.
One such individual is Kathy Moran. What started as an invitation for Moran to listen to one episode quickly grew to a commitment to listen to each episode upon its weekly release.
“I love that, overall, the podcast really encourages listeners to actively pursue a deepened faith and have a personal relationship with the [Holy] Trinity,” said Moran. “There’s so much to learn and love in that relationship. It’s also great to be able to share with non-Catholics and send them things that will help dispel some of the misconceptions they have about the Catholic Church.”
In particular, Moran has been touched by a pair of episodes featuring conversations with Catholic youth. “I love hearing that our teens are on fire for God, they want to tell everyone, and they’re actively living the faith,” said Moran. Another episode that highlights the life of a priest helps keep her boys open to God’s calling, she said. “It shows our young men that our priests are normal people — they love life, they love to watch football or shoot hoops, and they have faith. They’re holy people but still normal people.”
For Bach, the far-reaching effects of his collaboration with Gregory cannot be overstated. While some of his previous work in media had been faith-based, Bach’s experience with Belt of Truth inspired him to shift his work to exclusively Catholic content. He even partnered with fellow Armor of God member Karl Grab to found a new media company in Fort Wayne called Our Local Parish, which now produces the Belt of Truth podcast.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that it was led by the Holy Spirit,” Bach marveled. “I had a partnership with a successful media company here in Indianapolis, and it was hard for them to understand why I left. I couldn’t say no to the idea of taking my tools, talents, and treasures and just going straight to serving the Catholic Church and people in general.”
Any such people who would like to find out what Belt of Truth is all about can subscribe and listen on their favorite podcast app, or visit armingmen.com/podcast.
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