Holy Friendship and Faith: The Popularity of ‘Abiding Together’ Podcast

‘Connection, rest and encouragement for the journey!’

L to R: Michelle Benzinger, Sister Miriam James Heidland and Heather Khym
L to R: Michelle Benzinger, Sister Miriam James Heidland and Heather Khym (photo: Courtesy of Abiding Together )

The Abiding Together podcast has established itself as a place for “connection, rest and encouragement for the journey with Jesus Christ,” and it’s among the most popular Catholic podcasts and among the top podcasts overall.

Heather Khym, Michelle Benzinger and Sister Miriam James Heidland of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity never planned on hosting a podcast together, not in the least because they reside in various parts of North America.

The three friends were busy with their own endeavors when the opportunity for Abiding Together arose. As they began to consider it, it seemed to flow naturally from their friendship, albeit unexpectedly. As Khym told the Register, “All three of us had been journeying very deeply with Christ in our own personal lives and had always longed for somebody a step ahead, or just even in a similar place, who could talk about things so we could learn and grow.”

In a movement described as obedience to the Spirit, the three women took a leap of faith in producing the first episode. “We just threw it out there,” Khym recounted, “thinking not much would come of it … and before we knew it, it just took off” — and in no small way.

Since that debut episode in 2017, Abiding Together has garnered more than 12 million downloads and is in the top 1% of podcasts on Spotify. “It’s way bigger than just three women who love each other and love Jesus. For some reason, He’s using this to really reach people,” Khym said.

The 12 complete seasons cover a wide range of topics relating to the spiritual life, liturgical living and genuine Christian community. Additionally, there are designated series and guided studies on books, encyclicals and other aspects of the Catholic faith. While the three co-hostesses are the bastions of the show, they often invite guests to join them.

One such guest is Father Josh Johnson, director of vocations and pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church and School in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and host of his own popular podcast, Ask Father Josh. Speaking to the Register about his own show and about his time joining Abiding Together, Father Johnson sees the fruits firsthand.

“As a pastor, I walk with many women who desire community. The Abiding Together podcast has inspired women in my parish to intentionally prioritize time with other women who are striving to become saints. The witness of Heather, Michelle and Sister Miriam’s friendship has given many women in my community a model for healthy, vulnerable and holy friendship.”

Khym agrees with the priest’s observation: “I think community is a huge part of how people grow with God, and that’s what we’re modeling. We are modeling community with each other and how we can encourage one another.”

Corinne Purcell, of Steubenville, Ohio, is particularly grateful for this model, mentioning how her own relationships are reflected in the long-distance friendship of Abiding Together’s hosting trio.

“Despite geographical distance and varying life circumstances, we can stay connected in a deeper way through intentional communication, sharing of the deepest movements and sufferings of our hearts, and accountability in the spiritual life,” Purcell told the Register about her friendships, adding, “We continue to meet each other in those places, through the guidance and structure of the podcast and book studies.”

Lila Bannon, of Thorold, Ontario, has been edified by the podcast conversations, as well. Bannon told the Register how Abiding Together has bolstered her faith, noting specifically how Khym, Benzinger and Sister Miriam have made nuanced Church documents more approachable. “I loved the series on the ‘Feminine Genius,’ a term I have heard countless times. It allowed me to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of what it means to be a woman in today’s world through the eyes of the Church,” Bannon said. 

As the three hosts seek to provide a contextual, human perspective on Church teachings, it is stirring up a zeal in listeners’ hearts. 

“The richness in our Catholic Tradition and what God intends for us makes me proud of our faith,” Bannon said. “This podcast breaks down these topics in an easy-to-follow and understand way, with real-life experiences shared.” Bannon also mentioned she is planning to meet in person with some other women in her area so they can discuss the recent summer study.

Abiding Together’s co-hostesses agree the podcast is moving hearts. Khym shared that they often hear about groups of listeners sprouting up across the globe, where women (and men) are coming together to have deep conversations about their journeys with Christ. While many gather in person, even more have found one another online through the private Abiding Together Facebook group, which has more than 13,000 active members. 

It is clear that Catholics are open and eager for faith-based community, and Abiding Together is a tool that is helping to facilitate. But before anything else, Father Johnson shared some wisdom on exactly how to begin building such community: It starts with Jesus and meeting him in intentional, personal prayer every day.

“The way that we communicate with Jesus in prayer will affect the way that we communicate with people in our community,” he told the Register. “If we are good listeners to Our Lord in the Bible, then we will be better listeners to our friends. If we can vulnerably share our hearts with Christ in adoration, then we will be able to better express our hearts to our friends who we have chosen to walk with in our journey toward heaven.”

Khym said she and her co-hostesses have been astounded by the popularity of their show. “This ‘Yes’ in particular just shocks me still. I feel very humbled by it and a sense of wanting to steward this well for the Lord. This is a gift.” 

Overall, Khym said the women have one singular hope for their show: that their listeners will fall in love with Jesus and grow in deeper trust in him.

“God just takes a small ‘Yes,’ and you say ‘Yes’ again, and he just keeps pouring out his spirit upon it,” she said. “It’s like the loaves and the fish. The Lord is doing something so deep in the hearts of people that are listening, it feels like holy ground. It feels very sacred, what is happening in people’s hearts.”


Stream Abiding Together for free on all podcast streaming platforms, and find more information on the podcast website.