“The Moth has landed,” tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.
The tweet and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook page was meant to assure people that 60-year-old Bishop Richard Moth of Arundel and Brighton had fulfilled his pledge to go skydiving and had completed the task successfully and unharmed.
Joined by Lucy Barnes, a local Catholic school teacher, Bishop Moth jumped from a plane at 15,000 feet to raise money to take ailing pilgrims to Lourdes.
“He flies through the air with the greatest of ease,” said another tweet, referring to Bishop Moth.
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales tweeted: “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? … Wait, it’s a bishop!” They made no reference to the insect that flies and shares the bishop’s name.
With a goal of £3,000 (just under US$4,000), the bishop raised more than £5,160 on an online crowdfunding website.
In a press release from the diocese, Bishop Moth said: “It requires you to trust in the person you are in tandem with and in the equipment. The staff, however, are very professional and looked after us really well.” Both the bishop and Barnes jumped in tandem with – and harnessed to – an instructor.
Barnes said, “It was very cold at 15,000 feet and the one minute of freefall made my head spin, but then the gently drifting down with the parachute open was fantastic as you could see everything around you.”
When asked if they would do it again, Bishop Moth gave a hesitant “I might,” according to the diocese, but Barnes said, “I would not go up again and am glad to be back on earth, and feeling so much better after fish and chips, and gin and tonic!”
While Bishop Moth spent six years as the “Bishop of the Forces,” or military ordinary of Great Britain, it was not until he was far away from the professional paratroopers that he decided to wing it in an attempt to raise enough money to send two assisted pilgrims to Lourdes.
“Each year, the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton organizes a pilgrimage to Lourdes for one week in late July,” the diocese said. “Over 700 pilgrims travel with us, and 120 of those are sick, frail, elderly or disabled. Some pilgrims and their carers find it hard to fund their trip, and so from time to time we fundraise to subsidize their fare and accommodation in Lourdes.”