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'Papal Ninja' puts his Catholic faith and athletic abilities on display for primetime audience

Posted June 14

"American Ninja Warrior" returned for its eighth season earlier this month, bringing with it an unexpected faith hero: Sean Bryan, also know as the "Papal Ninja."

The 31-year-old Catholic successfully mounted climbing walls and leapt across water obstacles in the Los Angeles qualifier round, while sporting a bright yellow shirt emblazoned with his unique, religious logo.

Bryan, who was a college gymnast and once considered becoming a priest, celebrates the opportunity to talk about his faith on the primetime TV show.

"The producers really took a liking to my story, and they wanted to focus on the Catholic aspect," he told the National Catholic Register. "I totally went along with it because I thought it would be a great idea, because that's really who I am at heart."

Bryan owns a freelance design and videography business, but he still lives with members of the priesthood of the Salesians of Don Bosco in California. "He even turned their garage into an 'American Ninja Warrior' training facility," NCR reported.

He calls Francis de Sales, a saint in the Roman Catholic church, his mentor and draws on his inspiration during training and competition.

Bryan will continue on in the show after earning fourth place during his qualifier round. He told NCR that he hopes to be an inspiration to other Catholics.

"We're all called to be papal ninjas (and) to help accomplish the secular mission of the church as a layperson," he said.

Email: kdallas@deseretnews.com Twitter: @kelsey_dallas

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