Nun crosses off 'bucket list' item with hot air balloon in Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- A 71-year-old Louisiana nun celebrated her 50 years in the Catholic Church's Carmelite order with a hot air balloon alongside an 88-year-old nun.

Sister Catherine Riggs, 71, pastoral care director at Our Lady of Wisdom Healthcare Center in New Orleans, took a Thanksgiving weekend hot air balloon trip to celebrate her 50-year jubilee, the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Monday.


"The weather was perfectly clear, with sunshine and little wind. And the balloon itself was so beautiful, with all of its colors it looked just like a rainbow," Riggs said. "When they told me it was called 'No Boundaries,' I thought, 'Oh this is perfect!' Contrary to some others who didn't want to go because they were afraid of the heights, I was not scared. I never felt afraid; I just hopped right in the basket."

Riggs was accompanied by fellow nun Sister Lee Faszold, 88, and balloon pilot Leslie Jeansonne.

"At one point, while we were over a lake, Leslie told me to look down. Below me, I saw the reflection of the balloon in the lake, and it was just the most gorgeous sight," Riggs said. "The landing was also just so perfect. Even though balloons don't typically have much control over how they land, Leslie found small clearing and, with the help of the 'trace team' on the ground, put this huge thing down so gently in little space, it was remarkable."


Riggs said she doesn't know what her next adventure will be.

"People keep asking me, 'What now? What's next on your bucket list?' and I tell them, 'This was the whole list,'" she said. "The whole experience was very humbling. I am so blessed, and it is just a wonderful feeling to see all of the people involved to make this happen. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience."

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