Father Matthew Widder knelt in the open door of the small, but perfectly good airplane and anticipated his jump. The Go Pro cameras confirm that he had a big grin plastered across his youthful face as he looked down at an elaborate patchwork quilt of Wisconsin landscape 13,000 feet below. If he were nervous, you’d never know it by gazing at his wide smile.
“As a priest you get asked to do many things,” the father said still smiling. “Usually you just say yes. It’s actually a lot less stressful than many of the things you get asked to do as a priest. I just said ‘yes’ and said ‘okay, God, we’ll see what happens.’”
Parishioners had asked Father Matthew to take the leap of faith Thursday afternoon to aid in fundraising for St. Clemens Parish in Sheboygan. The faithful bid on a chance to jump with their priest and all of the dough benefitted the church and the affiliated school.
When the time came to jump, Father Widder wasn’t remotely hesitant. Smiling broadly with an experienced jumpmaster strapped to his bag, the father fell forward, facing downward. He didn’t clutch nervously at the cornfields thousands of feet below. He gave the sign of the cross and waved his hands in a blessing motion. He was turning his jump into a spiritual adventure.
“Looking down you just look all over and say, ‘please God bless this entire, everyone below here,’” said the upbeat man of the cross. “’Bring peace to our cities here. Please just watch over everyone. Bless everyone. Mary our mother, look over everyone.’”
Father Widder landed with that big, boyish grin still planted on his face. There was no official word Thursday evening on how much money was raised by the Priest’s leap, but the church was on the record in calling the event a success.