“For us, a podcast seemed a logical extension of the ministry, which strives to connect people with Catholic sisters for meaningful conversation about God, faith, religious life, and more.”
Q & A with Sister Rejane Cytacki from A Nun’s Life Ministry
When did you start podcasting?
We kicked off our first episode for Nun’s Life Ministry on December 9, 2008 (on Libsyn, of course!).
For us, it seemed a logical extension of the ministry, which strives to connect people with Catholic sisters for meaningful conversation about God, faith, religious life, and more.
What made you think about starting a podcast?
When A Nun’s Life Ministry got its start, it was a website with a robust blog and social media presence – your typical online community.
But it wasn’t long before we expanded into podcasting, and it would be fair to say that now, our podcasts are really what we’re known for!
What’s the name of your show and what is it about?
Over time, there’s been significant evolution in our A Nun’s Life Ministry shows.
“Ask Sister” is a long-running show that’s exactly what it sounds like: listeners send in questions about religious life, the Catholic faith, finding your way in the world, and so much more.
“In Good Faith” is a one-on-one (and occasionally one-on-two) conversation that dives deep into an individual sister’s ministry. Topics have included working with human trafficking victims, focusing on care for the earth, performing music or creating art, serving as a UN representative …. It’s nearly impossible to give a full idea of the spectrum of ministries where Catholic sisters serve. (You’ll just have to listen to the back episodes to hear for yourself!)
Those are our full-length episodes, and between scheduling, editing, and creating the pages for each episode on our site, they are fairly time-consuming.
We typically launch one full-length episode a month and offer a bite-size “Random Nun Clip” each of the other weeks of the month.
It’s a good cadence that gives our listeners plenty of content to enjoy without overwhelming them.
How has your podcast evolved?
It isn’t only our shows that have evolved. Over the years, there has been ebb and flow in our team as well.
Last year we had to make the biggest shift ever in A Nun’s Life Ministry. Co-founder Sister Maxine Kollasch announced her retirement, and the ministry announced me as the new executive.
Not long after, the ministry hired Program Director Elisabeth Deffner. Working closely with Sister Max and longtime employee Kelly Zlatic, the team has eased into training new hosts, developing new shows, and inviting new guests to share their stories.
For Sister Rejane and Elisabeth, who had zero experience in podcasting, it’s been a baptism by fire, but the audience has been incredibly receptive. With Sister Max and Kelly providing guidance and support, the transition went amazingly smooth.
What’s your podcast setup?
It’s no surprise that our hardware and software have also evolved over the years.
When A Nun’s Life started podcasting, we had very basic equipment — nothing fancy because it was what we could afford at the time.
Along the way, we learned a lot and upgraded accordingly. Among our favorite equipment:
- Shure SM7B microphone
- Yellowtec YT3201 mic arm
- Zoom H6 Handy Recorder (when you’re out and about, it really is handy)
- Sound Design Mix Pre-D, which performed like a champ on our 40 livestreaming Motherhouse Road Trips.
Today we rely heavily on Zencastr to interview our guests. As long as we can pinpoint any microphone challenges before the interview begins, it works very well.
And for transcribing each episode, Elisabeth is a huge fan of Otter.
How have you promoted your podcast?
Promotion is always a challenge!
We have an engaged, supportive audience, but our social media platforms don’t always make it easy to connect with them (looking at you, Facebook!).
We send out a monthly e-newsletter, and we have a great relationship with Global Sisters Report. They share a fresh Random Nun Clip on their website every week and permit us to re-publish one of their articles on our website each month.
Advertising on other websites has not been as successful. This year we have been focusing on Google Ads, making better use of our Google Ads Grant than we have in the past.
Performance can vary from month to month, but the analytics clearly show us that we are learning how to build better ads that drive people to the website to listen to our shows. Of course, we are on Twitter and Instagram.
This year we have also focused heavily on online events to connect with our community and invite new people to join it.
We have done several Facebook Lives — one during Advent, one during Lent, and one allowing a recent In Good Faith guest to share more fun stories and play her cello for us.
We also co-hosted a great online event with the National Religious Vocation Conference, which facilitated a rich discussion and gave us the opportunity to share links to our podcasts.
And we’ve got some cross-pollination projects in the works. I recently guested on another religious community’s podcast. We’re also brainstorming a new podcast project with several other religious communities.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Sister Max often tells us that she’s made every mistake in the book — and learned from them.
Fortunately for the rest of the team, we’re able to learn from those past experiences, too, even as we make our own mistakes!
One thing that we have to keep reminding ourselves is that we can’t be too insular, too focused on our team and on our own shows.
There’s a huge community out there, so willing to share what works for them (and what doesn’t) — we don’t need to re-create the wheel.
We can simply turn to a fellow podcaster and ask the question we need to have answered.
A Nun’s Life Ministry provides a number of shows including its Q&A “Ask a Sister,” “In Good Faith,” a one-on-one (and occasionally one-on-two) conversation that dives deep into an individual sister’s ministry ranging across a broad number of charitable endeavors and “Random Nun Clip,” shorts that provide unique insights into the Catholic nun’s ministry. Expand your religious inquisitiveness or devotion by listening on Apple or Spotify today!
Are you devoted to a cause you want to share with others? Something people are deeply connected to but have many questions about and a fervently looking for an answer? For Sister Rejane, a podcast seemed a logical extension of the ministry, which strives to connect people with Catholic sisters for meaningful conversation about God, faith, religious life, and more. Thinking about extending your reach? Use our Start Your Podcast blog series to start your own podcast today. And, when you are ready, we have the best podcast hosting plans around!