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Shellabarger joins diocesan staff

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)

Fred Shellabarger might have been ministering to a Protestant congregation had it not been for a Catholic theology professor.

The Diocese of Sioux City welcomed Shellabarger, the new diocesan assistant director of adult catechesis and family life, to the Chancery staff on Aug. 4.

“We are really excited to have Fred on board,” expressed Sean Martin, diocesan director of new evangelization, catechesis, and family life. “I think Fred is a very talented man who has a lot of skills and gifts to offer within the Diocese of Sioux City in the ministry of adult catechesis and family life.”

Education, conversion

Shellabarger has a BA in theological and historical studies from Oral Roberts University (ORU) and a MA in theology and Christian ministry with a specialization in catechetics from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. 

Prior to attending Franciscan University, Shellabarger was studying to be a Protestant pastor.

“I am a convert (to Catholicism),” he said. “A lot of the training to become a Protestant pastor, I believe, was leading me more and more to the Catholic Church the whole time. It started with studying the church fathers. There was one Catholic theology professor at ORU whose personal witness had a profound effect on me.”

At one point, Shellabarger said, he had to choose between accepting a full-time position at the Protestant church he was in and converting to Catholicism.


“A lot of my experiences during my time at Franciscan and in Steubenville are things that will help the most (in my new position) such as being an RCIA parish coordinator,” he said. “I helped develop online courses, specifically catechetics courses, while I was there. This is experience I think will be helpful as we move forward with the catechist certification.”

He also helped coordinate the St. John Bosco conference for catechists, which had more than 370 participants this past year. Many catechetical leaders from the U.S., Canada and Australia attended.


“One thing that really resonated with me was Bishop’s pastoral letter. Those goals in a lot of ways are my goals,” said Shellabarger. “Those are the things I am most passionate about such as getting people to be more actively and fully engaged in the liturgy.”

He has a strong passion for adult faith formation, so the bishop’s emphasis on renewing catechesis, especially adult faith formation, he said is “one of the things that drew me here.”

“Adult faith formation is the path of the disciple,” said Shellabarger. “When you read Bishop’s letter, you realize everything builds on the next thing. When we get people more engaged in the liturgy and form them as adults, the other things follow.”

In his new position, Shellabarger is enjoying meeting the people of the diocese, finding out their needs and how he can serve them. He wants to go out to the parishes and help in any way he can, especially in the area of adult faith formation.

“I’m excited about the catechist certification,” he said. “We are talking about ways to improve it and developing an advanced certification.”

Shellabarger and his wife, Krystal, have been married for eight years. Their three children are Hannah, 5; Jacob, 3; and Elizabeth, 1.  The family moved to the diocese from Steubenville, Ohio, where they have been residing for the past few years. 

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