LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – To celebrate Catholic Schools Week, St. Theresa Catholic School in southwest Little Rock brought a special guest to speak to students: a skateboarding friar with a message on resilience.
Brother Gabriel Cortes is a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate with a unique hobby. He rolls around the country on his skateboard, sharing scripture with students and using skateboarding as an example of “getting back on the board” and trusting in your faith.
“We go where we’re sent,” Br. Gabriel explained. “And we bring the gospel to whatever land we find ourselves in.”
The most recent stop was St. Theresa, a Little Rock Catholic School meeting the brother for the first time.
“We celebrate that we’re here,” principal Kristy Dunn said about the presentation, “and we’re different and we take care of kids….teaching is based on relationship and learning is based on engagement.”
Brother Gabriel admits it’s a unique way of connecting with students, saying, “it’s an avenue that not many people have.” But based on the response of kids, it’s one they appreciate.
“[It’s] making use of all the analogies that go along with skateboarding of falling down and getting back up,” Br. Gabriel explained, sometimes even using the students themselves in his demonstrations – lining kids up and jumping over them after a quick bible verse as a sort of “leap of faith”.
He explains it as an example of moving forward, getting back up after a fall, and never looking back.
Brother Gabriel has been kickflipping in schools across the country for 19 years, and even partners with a religious skate, snow, and surf shop in Denver named Motherboards after the Holy Mother Mary.