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 | By Joey Reistroffer

SC’s Sensus Fidelium Becomes a YouTube Hit

Steve Cunningham takes to heart Christ’s command to go forth and make disciples of all nations.

He’s not walking from place to place like the apostles did 2,000 years ago, nor does he have to shake any dust from his sandals when he is rejected. He simply moves forward, with a couple of clicks on his computer, in his effort to evangelize all nations.

Cunningham is the administrator of Sensus Fidelium,
a website for those who are curious about their faith and want to learn more. He uploads videos, podcasts, sermons, historical teachings of the Catholic Church, stories about the saints and much, much more.

“There’s something for everybody,” he said.

One sermon might catch the attention of someone 65 and older, while a podcast might grab the interest of an 18-year-old grappling with their faith. Visitors write in and express their thoughts, so Cunningham knows when and where something has hit home.

“I’ll see a comment on something I posted eight years ago,” he said.

And he takes it to heart.

“You’ve got to get to know the person. Find out who they are and what their interests are,” Cunningham said of those clicking around Sensus Fidelium, which began in 2012. Not everyone wants everything, he said. “It can’t be a blanket.”

Still, Cunningham tries to “get every video I can” in both English and Spanish because he knows that someone out there is interested.

If you want to know where to find the oldest Marian statue in the Western Hemisphere, go to Sensus Fidelium. It will tell you that La Conquistadora resides in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Sensus Fidelium also will tell you about Father Willie Doyle, an Irish priest who died a hero administering the sacraments under horrific conditions in the trenches of World War I. His cause for canonization is moving forward. Sensus Fidelium also posts information about saints and martyrs.

“These are people that we never heard of and what they went through,” Cunningham said. 

He has posted sermons that are 5-8 minutes long or over 38 minutes long. He has uploaded material on fasting and on the truth of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Each topic has an audience somewhere, and the feedback has been mind-boggling.

“Almost every hour of every day I get a ‘Wow!’ response,” Cunningham said. Even from youth.

“Kids will go toward authentic things,” he said. “If you aren’t authentic, why bother. If you water it down, kids know when you’re being fake, and they don’t like it. They’ll go somewhere else.”

That is the truth, and that is what Cunningham offers on Sensus Fidelium.

“You don’t have to oversell this … give them the truth,” he said.

Parents also need to hear the truth, because they are crucial in teaching the faith to their children. If they don’t, that faith withers.

“You’ve got to get the parents,” he added, and you can’t give up, even when you get dejected or rejected. Cunningham cited the life of St. Monica, who prayed endlessly for the conversion of her son, Augustine. The now-saint finally discovered the truth and became a Doctor of the Church.

“It’s got to start with prayer,” Cunningham said. “You have to talk to our Lord.” What is your response when the world turns nasty? Cunningham asks. “Are you going to tweet about it, or are you going to get down on your knees and pray about it?”

He encourages people to pray like dedicated athletes train.

“In sports, you put your muscles through pain to get better. Same with faith. You’ve got to get calluses on your knees to get better.”

Cunningham was a gifted athlete according to his friend Mario Insabella.

The Sensus Fidelium owner grew up in Cowpens and was a huge sports fan. He said he had posters of his sports heroes all over his bedroom walls, and when his faith began to grow, he started collecting posters of the saints.

Cunningham said he attended St. Paul the Apostle School in Spartanburg when the nuns taught there, and he went all the way through sixth grade. Insabella said those lessons took hold for Cunningham and his brother, Michael, who became a priest.

“He was always evangelizing,” Insabella recalls. “At the International Festival (an annual event in Spartanburg), he would set up a little table on Main Street, and he would hand out rosaries,” Insabella said. “That’s Steve. He has a burning desire to evangelize and to tell people about the Catholic faith.”

Insabella said Cunningham inspired him to take a deeper, inward look at his faith and do something about it.

“He started sending me prayer cards and information and emails,” Insabella said. “He gave me a whole host of CDs. I just got totally excited about the Catholic faith again. He got me to go to adoration. He turned me on to St. Alphonsus Liguori, who is my favorite saint. He changed my life.”

Cunningham wanted to change the lives of others, too, so he started putting things on YouTube and the idea of Sensus Fidelium began to blossom.

“People are hungry, and people want information,” Insabella said.

“When Sensus Fidelium first started, he was having a hard time,” Insabella said of Cunningham. “So he sent out a GoFundMe. He just wanted enough money to keep the lights on. Within hours of posting that, he had thousands of dollars pouring in. He didn’t realize how far-reaching it went,” Insabella said.

Now he does.

On some posts, he gets comments from Canada, Trinidad, India, Kenya, Croatia, Nigeria, Lebanon, Argentina and even from Australia.

“We’re all over,” Cunningham said.

One reason is because people can see the energy and the effort put into talking about the Catholic faith.

“He knows a lot about history, and he’s really good at telling it,” said Steve Miller, another parishioner at St. Paul. “He can be very inspiring, and he helps people see the faith in a very clear and vibrant way.”

Most of all, “he loves it, and he loves sharing it,” Miller said.

Through Sensus Fidelium, Steve Cunningham is answering Christ’s call to go forth and make disciples of all nations. And he doesn’t need sandals to walk that walk, just a good computer.

Joseph Reistroffer is a long-time writer who teaches religious education classes at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg. Email him at