"American Ninja Warrior” is one of the most popular reality television shows around. It challenges its contestants to go through intricate obstacle courses. Only a few are selected and later eliminated. The ultimate goal is to make it to the national finals in Las Vegas, in hopes of becoming the next "American Ninja Warrior” and winning the 1,000,000 dollar grand prize.
"I would actually say that I have been training for my whole life because I started gymnastics when I was three and I did it throughout college. I've been specifically training ninja stuff for about seven months but my whole life has been training for this.”
This competitor has a little more than skills and luck by his side. His name is Sean Bryan and some could say that he is getting some help from above lately. He is a former gymnast who carries is immense faith in the Church with him both on and off the obstacle course. In fact, he calls himself the Papal Ninja.
"Most of the time, I'm speaking to a secular or non-religious audience. So they don't really know understand the term, 'Papal.' So, I use that as an opportunity to explain it and reach out to the secular world in that sort of way, where I explain 'Papal' as an adjective of or relating to the Pope. So, if the Pope gave a blessing, that would be a Papal blessing and if the Pope had a ninja, that would be me.”
Sean Bryan completed the challenging course in two minutes and thirty seconds. Although, he has not won the grand prize, he is still ranked among the show's top performers.
"In all reality, if you think about what a ninja actually is a skilled person who uses their talents and their gifts to accomplish the mission of the one who sent them. If you just stick with the analogy of 'what would a papal ninja be?' To me, that would be, especially as a lay person, helping accomplish the mission of the lay people, which is order towards secular society of ordering temporal affairs. I'm teaching other people how to and myself as well by going out into the world and living my faith in a way that is helping to accomplish that mission.”
Although Sean decided that priesthood was not for him, he continues to fulfill his mission of faith and purpose as a lay person. He stayed with the Salesians to finish his Masters in Theology at the University of California, Berkeley. When he is not busy competing, Sean is heavily involved with the Lay Mission Project.