My two month + sabbatical and pilgrimage is now concluded and I am at home in South Carolina ready to return to the parish I left in the capable hands of Fr Richard Ballard. The adventure in Jerusalem concluded on June 1 with a flight to London where I met about 25 pilgrims for a ten day pilgrimage tour of England focussing on the English martyrs and Catholic literary figures. After that I was going to join film maker Stan Williams for some filming at St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall in preparation for a film project we hope to undertake next summer–documenting a pilgrimage to the seven Michael monasteries on the Sword of St Michael.
However, on June 11–a few days before heading out to meet Stan, who was on his way from Ireland, I was hit with COVID. I hunkered down in a Heathrow hotel for two days feeling pretty miserable, and it was then that the US government lifted the requirement for a negative COVID test to enter the US. So, rather than isolate in an airport hotel for who knows how long, I booked an early flight home and paid extra for a seat on my own in order to isolate as much as possible. I took the next few days to recover here at home and have tested negative this morning–much to my relief.
The sabbatical in Jerusalem was a life changing experience. It was so amazing to be there for that long a period of time to really soak up the atmosphere and feel close to the events of the world’s redemption. One of the highlights must be the opportunity to con celebrate Mass one Sunday morning in the empty tomb itself. Something I will never forget. That–along with the Good Friday liturgy celebrated in the Chapel of the Nailing on Mount Calvary was simply awesome. It made me very happy and will inform and enlighten every Mass and every Holy Week for the rest of my days.
It was also a great blessing to spend ten days in England re-visiting places I have come to love and often miss. I carried home with me a nice image of Our Lady of Walsingham from the shrine–which now graces my private oratory. It was also a sweet thing to celebrate Mass with the pilgrims in some of the most beautiful churches and cathedrals in England.
Now home with much to do do and plenty of job awaiting. I hope to maintain this blog and keep producing content here and to update my monthly newsletter to keep people informed. Stay tuned!