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Spirit of Acadiana: The fabulous skydiving priest

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Posted at 6:02 PM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 19:54:56-04

Father Dan Edwards has been at St. Jules Catholic Church in Lafayette for a dozen years. He performs the usual duties expected of a priest: Communion. Reconciliation. Baptism. Matrimony. And, oh yes, Father Dan also skydives.

That’s right: He’s a skydiving priest.

“I went back into my body and I remember flying back through the clouds like I'm skydiving,” recalls Edwards. “And I went back into my body, I cried, and I got ordained a priest that day. After that, I always wanted to skydive. And that's why I skydive.”

That story, says Father Dan Edwards, came on the eve of his ordination as a priest. There were moments of doubt, then, as he slept, he says he heard a message of support from Jesus Christ. Thus, began his love for the sport of skydiving. “It's like being Superman,” he laughs. “That's the only way to describe it. It's like being Superman. You're flying; you have no sense of gravity, and it's not like a roller-coaster ride.”

Now there are other things that make this story even more special. a few years ago, Father Dan was told he was going to die. Not long after that, he had his left leg amputated below his knee. But even though he'd only gone skydiving one time before, and even though he'd just lost his leg, Father Dan knew... he knew this was yet another of his spiritual callings.

Many, many questions swirl around my brain. One them being, “Does being a skydiver make you a better priest?” Father Edwards didn’t waste a second in responding. “I think it does. I trust God more. When you jump out of a plane, you've got to have faith, you've got to have trust.” His parishioners used to worry, but now, he's got a small group—The Faith Divers-- who actually go with him once a year.

But there's the question of "why?" and, fittingly, there's a consistent answer from this courageous, uplifting priest.

“We have a great God. And God allows us to do great things. Trust him,” smiles Edwards, the owner of 384 jumps. “I mean, every time I go skydiving, I still can't believe that, as an amputee, I'm jumping out of an airplane and I'm a skydiver.”

“It kind of blows my mind to be honest with you.”

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