Updated

By Philippine News Agency

DAPITAN CITY, Zamboanga del Norte – A priest here has a scary way of propagating the gospel – by sky diving.

'FLYING PRIEST'. Parishioners cheerfully greet Fr. Mario Beltran Patangan on the shores of Dapitan City after his 18th jump during the feast of the Saint James the Greater on Thursday, July 25. (PNA / MANILA BULLETIN)

‘FLYING PRIEST’: Parishioners cheerfully greet Fr. Mario Beltran Patangan on the shores of Dapitan City after his 18th jump during the feast of the Saint James the Greater on Thursday, July 25.
(PNA / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zones to broaden and deepen our world view, our understanding of life. That’s what I’m trying to impart to my parishioners,” said Fr. Mario Beltran Patangan of this city’s Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish.

“Getting out of our comfort zones is not endangering ourselves either,” Fr. Patangan said.

“Like jumping at 10,000 feet above sea level, it is moving toward another dimension, it is having trust, it is having faith.”

Since 2008 Patangan has already accumulated 18 jumps under his wings.

“And believe me,” he said, “it’s always terrifying every time I get out of that flying plane, but when I’m already floating on air slowly gliding down, I feel serenity, I feel freedom, I feel like being under the wings of a great somebody who loves me a lot, it’s my most peaceful moments.”

In each of these mid-air jumps, the priest said he would imagine hearing a voice telling him not to worry because the wind will catch him, and bring him safely to the ground.

“Between the plane and the ground is the wind, we cannot see it but it makes us fly. It’s like God, we cannot see Him, but He is there.

We just have to have faith and let Him catch us, and let Him bring us safely to the ground,” the priest said.

Patangan is from nearby Dipolog City and grandnephew of the late Father Nicasio Yebes Patangan, the first Filipino diocesan priest from Mindanao.

Asked why his parishioners should go to another spiritual dimension, Patangan said: “Nothing happens if husband and wife are stuck in an argument, they have to rise above their differences or move to another dimension to solve their problems.”

“We can never have the change we shout out when we allow bribery in our midst, when we ignore corruption, when we sell our votes. We should start from ourselves, get out of our comfort zones and work – sacrifice a little if we must – to make the change that we want,” he said.

Patangan observed that people have the tendency to justify their own mistakes, “which prevents them from growing up as a people.”

“When we are caught cheating, we say we are just humans. When we steal, we say we are just humans,” he said. “We always think of being humans when we comfortably stay on our animal level.”

The priest said to be human is to struggle, “to do good, because it is always easy to do bad. And that is what exactly what he urged his parishioners to do.”

“That’s why the real measure of a person is to choose between the two, whether we stay on our animal level or we rise up to another dimension – that is to be human,” Patangan said.