January 1, 2021 | Local News

Jessy Bennett edits audio for the Finding Faith podcast in her office at St. Mary of the Woods Parish in Whitesville on Nov. 5, 2020.

Finding Faith

Podcast ministry shares stories of young adults’ faith journeys


A new podcast out of St. Mary of the Woods Parish in Whitesville has grown its audience beyond just parishioners because no matter where you live, “it’s uplifting to hear the stories of others,” says Jessy Bennett, the podcast’s creator and host.

“Finding Faith” podcast kicked off in late August 2020, and completed its first season in December with 20 episodes. A bonus episode about how to reflect on and share your story is being released in early 2021.

Bennett, who directs youth and young adult ministry at St. Mary of the Woods Parish, originally started the podcast as an extension of the parish’s young adult ministry, in order to share the stories of people in their 20s and 30s who are affiliated with the parish.

But her audience has grown as listeners have shared it with others beyond Whitesville and even out-of-state.

“It’s been incredible to get to witness all these stories and get to share them with people,” said Bennett in a Dec. 2, 2020 Zoom interview.

Starting a podcast

Bennett said the idea of a podcast started as a bit of an inside joke “because I am horrible with technology.”

But following a conversation with someone who suggested doing a podcast to help her goals of engaging young adults, and after discussing the idea with her husband, who also encouraged the idea, Bennett took the hint.

“God always uses other people to tell me what to do,” she said. “Message received!”

The first thing Bennett did was ask Fr. Brian Roby, her pastor, since the original idea was just to interview local St. Mary’s parishioners. Fr. Roby provided a list of potential interviewees to contact. Bennett also tapped into her young adult ministry core team for suggestions.

Then she took the list to God in prayer “because it was his idea, not mine!” she said.

“Originally my goal was to get 10 episodes,” said Bennett. “I didn’t think I could get 10 people to say yes (to being interviewed).”

Jessy Bennett edits audio for the Finding Faith podcast in her office at St. Mary of the Woods Parish in Whitesville on Nov. 5, 2020. ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD | WKC

She read articles about podcasts, watched informational YouTube videos and talked to her husband, who was in the process of starting his own podcast for his business.

Her timing was perfect, too. Bennett said that if it wasn’t for the global pandemic, she never would have had the time to start a podcast. But since the majority of ministry activities were cancelled at the parish this summer, she had plenty of time to research and plan out this project.

Reflecting on her now 20 episodes of Finding Faith, Bennett is glad she responded to the Holy Spirit’s initial prompting.

Unique stories

Finding Faith follows a simple structure: the guest shares their story, and then Bennett follows up with some questions to clarify or get the guest’s advice on helping listeners “bolster and improve their own prayer life with Jesus,” she said.

Bennett receives an advance copy of the guest’s story so she knows ahead of time what they’ll be discussing. They don’t have to read their written story word-for-word, but it helps to give her an idea – and to guide the guest as they share.

Bennett also prints out a copy of their story to have on hand so that as they’re talking she can write notes in the margins to see what questions she might ask when they are finished.

Finding Faith’s list of guests “has been pretty eclectic,” said Bennett.

Her guests so far have included several converts to Catholicism, a seminarian, a director of parish children’s ministry, a physical therapist and mother, as well as the director of Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp and Retreat Center – Ben Warrell, who ministers to young adults.

Bennett said it’s been powerful to be present in the moment that her guests are sharing their stories – listeners get to hear the edited, final audio, “but sometimes I’m a witness to the tears as well,” she said.

She has also received feedback from those who have benefited from it, including the diocese’s director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Charlie Hardesty, who was moved by a particular episode one day and called Jessy up to tell her.

Bennett has learned from her guests, too. One guest, Emily Payne, shared that her family picks a saint to ask for their intercession for their family every year. Bennett said she plans to begin that tradition with her own family.

Doing this podcast “has personally helped to build up my faith,” said Bennett.

Bearing fruit

Prior to interviewing guests on the podcast, Bennett always sends them the Finding Faith mission statement so that the episodes can stay consistent to that message.

The mission statement includes the sentence that “Everyone has a story and ‘Finding Faith’ seeks to tell those stories and allow others to ask the questions they need answered.”


In each episode, Bennett also provides her contact information so that if listeners have questions, or are seeking someone to journey with them, they can reach out. She emphasizes that it is “ok to ask questions about the faith,” despite the societal myth that asking questions is a sign of not trusting.

“But questions (just) mean you don’t yet understand,” she said. “Most of the conversations people had with Jesus started with them questioning him.”

Bennett said the original purpose was for young adult audiences to hear from their peers, but anyone of any age is welcome to listen as they learn how to recognize these faith moments in their own lives.

“I’ve gotten praise for organizing this, but I’m just a witness – they’re baring their souls for people,” she said of her guests.

“One thing I hope that listeners take away from this podcast is the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus,” said Bennett. “That’s the goal and purpose of this podcast – to share encounters whether it’s an ‘a-ha moment’ or constant experiences of God showing up.”

Want to start listening?

Website: https://findingfaith.buzzsprout.com

Facebook: @stmarywhitesvilleya

Instagram: @st_mary_ya

Questions, comments, seeking someone to journey with you? Email Jessy Bennett at [email protected].



Originally printed in the January 2021 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.


Current Issue

Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
Contributors |  Riley Greif, Rachel Hall
Layout |  Rachel Hall
Send change of address requests to [email protected]