Fr. Stephen Gadberry is a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also an avid fitness practitioner, and just recently was able to compete in the hit show, “American Ninja Warrior”! Today, Jared Zimmerer and Fr. Stephen discuss faith, fitness, and evangelization, and the ways in which the intertwining of all three help proclaim Christ in the culture.
To start, tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been a priest? When did you initially hear the call to serve God as a priest of the Church?
I was born and raised in the Arkansas Delta and grew up on our family farm in Wynne, Arkansas where we grew rice and soybeans. I graduated high school in 2004 and went to a small community college for a year. In 2005, I enlisted in the US Air Force and was stationed in Texas, Germany, and Iraq. I am the second oldest of five children. My father and older sister passed away in a vehicle accident in 1994. The Catholic faith has always been very important to my family and I; we never missed Sunday Mass, a day of obligation, or parish event. That being said, we were certainly not “fanatics” or overly pious in an outward way. Although I grew up Catholic and was always active in the Church, it was not until my time in the military that the faith became a personal thing. I fell in love with the Church, sought to learn as much as I could and most importantly, came to know Christ in a personal and intimate way. A consequence of this personal embracing of the faith was an increased spiritual awareness, through which I heard the small, persistent invitation from Christ to follow him and to surrender my life to him as a priest.
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