Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Thursday 25 February |
Saint of the Day: St. Toribio Romo González
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Catholic priest to compete on American Ninja Warrior


Father Stephen Gadberry | Instagram

J-P Mauro - published on 05/24/18

Father Stephen Gadberry will use the obstacle course as a stage for Evangelization.

We’ve gotten used to seeing religious vestments on talent show stages, but it was still a pleasant surprise to see that the 10th season of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior will feature a Catholic priest. Father Stephen Gadberry will test his physical fitness and obstacle acumen for a chance to win $1 million.

Father Gadberry was challenged to apply for the show by two-time ANW contestant, Sean Bryan, who became known as the “Papal Ninja” after competing while wearing a shirt with the nickname.

The ninja priest accepted the challenge, stating he “would be a bad steward of God’s gifts if [he] didn’t humbly and gratefully accept this opportunity as a moment” to proclaim the Gospel. He continued:

“[Evangelizing] is the primary reason for me doing this. The Lord tells us to go out and make disciples of all nations,” he said. “As this platform has stumbled into my lap…I can further deliver the message of the Gospel that I am supposed to as a priest.”

Father Gadberry is the pastor of two parishes in Arkansas: St. Cecilia Church in Newport and St. Mary Church in Batesville. Even pulling down double duty as a priest, this former military man still finds time to bring his ministry to a local prison, where he uses his expertise as a personal trainer to connect with inmates and initiate vulnerable conversations.

He told CNA, “The whole time, we are talking about life problems and struggles,” he said. “The guards loved it because they saw it was changing the guys I was working out with.”

In order to maintain his physical fitness, Father Gadberry exercises for 1-2 hours a day. He notes that these long workouts never come between him and his priestly duties, since he rarely watches TV.

As for the competition, Father Gadberry will meet it with a serene confidence which can only come from a priest:

“The whole mood of this ninja warrior thing is all about conquering obstacles. You’re not going to get the last obstacle, to hit the buzzer, until you get over the obstacle that is right in front of you,” he said. “You have enough to worry about, so it doesn’t make sense to stress about the obstacles way off in the future. Just deal with the one you got right in front of you.”

Watch the 10th season of American Ninja Warrior on NBC, May 30th.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
J-P Mauro
A song to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines
Bret Thoman, OFS
Padre Pio says this is a sin that’s difficult to forgive &#...
Philip Kosloski
10 Things you should know about the Catholic Mass
Philip Kosloski
Why does Lent last 40 days?
Jim McIngvale
Cerith Gardiner
Mattress Mack steps up again to help those suffering freezing wea...
Philip Kosloski
Rarely seen photos of Fatima visionaries, Lucia, Jacinta and Fran...
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.