St. Agnes Academy in Houston, where Sister Jane is principal, went way beyond that. The students raised over $90,000. And Sister Jane jumped.
"It was an intimidating experience. I literally had to sign my life away. I was scared all the way up. Once the parachute opened, it was truly beautiful and I kept saying, 'Thank you, Jesus!'"
Talk about a leap of faith! But once she did it, she sure looked joyful.
Since April, I've been paying closer attention to the stunning leaps of faith that Catholic nuns are willing to make.
How are they responding to the Vatican's plans to take control of LCWR? It looks to me as if they've chosen a leaps-of-faith hurdle course.
In contrast to our media-heavy society, the sisters say little in public. In contemplation and community, they rely on God's presence and on each other. Their words are gentle, fearless, and entirely non-violent. They seek dialog, a respectful mutual listening process that can transform everyone.
What a prophetic contrast to most public disagreements in the USA - especially in an election year!
In my experience, it's really hard to stay with that commitment to contemplation, community, discernment, and dialog. While they certainly are holier than I am, I don't think the sisters are some super-human species, immune to natural anger and fear, righteousness and vulnerability.
Yet there they are. They've leaped before, and they are leaping now, and they will leap again.
About 6 months ago, I cut out a few inches of a story about the future of religious life from the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods, Indiana. One of their ministries is the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice. The Center offers leadership and education - and also raises alpacas.
This story, too, is about leaps of faith. It's a conversation among members of the newly elected leadership team for the congregation:
"Sister Denise Wilkinson (SDW): So much of what we are up against - what the world is up against - are very powerful systems... If we are going to serve the unmet needs, we are going to be up against a lot of powerful persons. I think that's going to be a messy time. I think it's going to call forth new things from us because I think we are going to be moving into places for which we don't have the training. I'm not sure what the training is, whether it is thinking or processing or systems or what.
"Sister Dawn Tomaszewski: Well, we learned how to shear alpacas!
"SDW: Absolutely. And how to keep their numbers down! (laughter)"
Would I leap from an airplane to raise money for Haiti? Would I raise alpacas to engage people in eco-justice?
Here's what I'm sure of: I will let LCWR "call forth new things" from me. Together, the 1500 women in the Leadership Conference are wise and smart and (to use an old word) downright godly. I'm hoping they'll teach me to leap.