Papal Ninja Sean Bryan Keeps Winning on ‘American Ninja Warrior’ (Even When He Doesn’t)

Papal Ninja Sean Bryan Keeps Winning on ‘American Ninja Warrior’ (Even When He Doesn’t) August 13, 2023

Athlete Sean Bryan, the Papal Ninja, in action and in an interview video
Sean Bryan, the Papal Ninja, of ‘American Ninja Warrior.’ Photo credit (left): Elizabeth Morris/NBC. Photo credit (right): YouTube screenshot/Kate O’Hare

Ever since season 8, Sean Bryan, the Papal Ninja, has been a top competitor on NBC’s obstacle-course competition-reality show American Ninja Warrior. The season 15 finale is coming up soon, and Bryan’s in the hunt for the $1M prize.

What’s Most Important to the Papal Ninja

But, from the beginning until now, what’s mattered most to Bryan is the work he does for the Lay Mission Project, which describes itself as, “an apostolate devoted to igniting the Faith of lay Catholics and helping them discern and live out their unique vocations.”

His platform as the Papal Ninja — dressed in the yellow and white of the Vatican flag, and with the papal crest on his chest — has allowed Bryan to not only create and run his own Ninja gym in the Bay Area but to spread the Good News about the Faith and the love of Christ.

I just did a video interview with Bryan (scroll to the bottom for that), but it’s not the first time we’ve sat down to talk on video (but it is the first time you also see me).

The Papal Ninja Then

Back in 2017, when Bryan was in Southern California, I interviewed him at St. Monica Catholic Church, where he was shooting a segment for ANW, and also got to watch him do his thing at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica:

The Papal Ninja Now

I sat down with Bryan on Saturday to talk about all the facets of his sports and spiritual journeys: ANW, his gym, what the Faith has meant to him as a person and an athlete, why so many Ninjas are Christian, dealing with age and injury, and his adventures as a Catholic in Ninja world (including preaching and having his spiritual mentor and colleague, Dominican Father Michael Sweeney, O.P., say Mass right on the Ninja set).

So, Enjoy!

American Ninja Warrior airs Monday nights on NBC (and streams the next day on Peacock). The finale of Season 15 begins airing on Monday, Aug. 21.

Image: Photo credit (left): Elizabeth Morris/NBC. Photo credit (right): YouTube screenshot/Kate O’Hare

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About Kate O'Hare
Based in Los Angeles, Kate O'Hare is a veteran entertainment journalist, Social Media Content Manager for Family Theater Productions and a rookie screenwriter. You can read more about the author here.
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