Meet the Chaplain: Fr. Rick Stansberry – Oklahoma City Chapter
Father Rick Stansberry, the chaplain of Legatus’ Oklahoma City Chapter, performs an act of courage every time he celebrates Mass.
Father Stansberry, 57, has a “terrible fear” of public speaking that has not gone away in his 26 years of being ordained a priest. Praying before Mass has helped ease his anxiety, but Fr. Stansberry still describes having stage fright before every homily.
Still, that has not stopped Fr. Stansberry from serving in a variety of roles as a priest, including his present assignments as a pastor of Christ the King Church in Oklahoma City and as judicial vicar for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He has also been a Legatus chaplain for four years. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.
When did you discern you were called to the priesthood?
Probably when I was a little boy. My dad was a doctor. He would take me to the hospital with him on weekends to make rounds with the patients. In those days, kids were not allowed to go on the floors, so he would leave me with the Sisters, and they would take me to Mass. I became very interested in the Catholic Church because I was not a Catholic at that point. I was Episcopalian.
When did you become Catholic?
When I was in high school. I had some good friends who were Catholic, and even then I liked the fact that there was doctrinal stability in the Catholic Church. But even as an Episcopalian, I thought about wanting to become a priest, although I went to college and became an accountant for several years and thought about getting married before I finally went to seminary.
When did you realize that being a married accountant would not be your permanent state in life?
I was on a business trip in St. Louis. I stopped in to go to Mass at the Basilica there. The Mass turned out to be an ordination, and I had never been to an ordination. I was very moved by it. It was almost like there was some sort of a movement or a calling that kind of hit me at the time. And then, about three weeks later, I was back here in Oklahoma City and one Saturday night, I decided to go to our cathedral for a Saturday night Mass and it turned out to be another ordination. It was very clear that the Lord was sending me a message.
Does your accounting background come in handy?
It does because in some ways I too am a business leader. In this parish, we have 100 full and part-time employees, a $7 million-a-year budget. Essentially, I’m the CEO of all that. At the end of the day, I have to make sure the income is sufficient, that we have enough money to pay people’s salaries and benefits, and that there is enough money to keep everything going.
What is something that people are surprised to learn about you?
A lot of people don’t know that I have a terrible fear of public speaking. I’m terrified of public speaking. I do it obviously every day, but it’s only through the grace of God because I do not like public speaking. When people get to know me and they hear me say that, they’ll say, “Oh, we don’t believe that.” I’m like, “Oh, it’s very real.”
What’s another interesting fact about your life?
Growing up, my parents were pretty anti-Catholic. About 15 years ago, on her own initiative, my mom went to RCIA and went to the parish where I was, so I confirmed my mother as a Catholic. Last year, my dad was dying, and none of us knew if he had ever been baptized. Someone said, “You’re a priest, baptize him.” I baptized my dad as a Catholic, two hours later he died, and I celebrated the funeral Mass here with two archbishops. My dad would never have imagined that.