Dear Brothers and Sisters

After ten years of priestly ministry, the Diocese of Charleston advises her priests to take a sabbatical for renewal, training and prayer. Having been ordained for fifteen years I am overdue! Therefore, I will be absent from OLR during April/May this year. I have been honored to have been offered a place to study at the prestigious Ecole Biblique, the Dominican House of Studies in Jerusalem. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to be in Jerusalem, to share in the daily worship of the Dominican friars and do further research on the Bethlehem Shepherds. You may know I have written a book about the wise men. Now it is the turn of the shepherds!

The Ecole Biblique (French for Bible School) is the center from which the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were first analyzed and studied. I hope to connect with scholars and historians in the Holy Land to deepen my research and study of this most important part of the Christmas Story.

It is also a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in Jerusalem during Holy Week and Easter. How amazing to be there where Our Lord suffered and died and rose again for us during the week of his passion! I hope you will remember to pray for me while I am away and I will certainly be remembering everyone at OLR in my prayers and Mass intentions.

At the end of May, I will travel from Israel to England to join our pilgrims on the parish pilgrimage. After visiting friends and family in England, I will return to the parish mid-June. During my absence Fr, Ballard will hold the fort with the assistance of retired priests here in the Upstate.

Thank you for your support and love for our parish. We have accomplished so much here at OLR together—but there is still so much more to do!

Your pastor,

Fr. Longenecker