What a bizarre little semi-story

family ordinationWant to see a truly bizarre little news story? Want to see a major missed opportunity to show a key scene in what simply has to have been a complex and rich human drama?

OK, then read the report by E. Richard Walton in The Greenville (S.C.) News that ran with this "duh" headline: "Priest ordained in two-hour ceremony." Oh, what the heck, here is the story itself -- since it is so short. Ready?

Dwight Joseph Longenecker, a lay pastor at St. Joseph Catholic School in Greenville who has served the Church of England, was ordained a priest Thursday night [Dec. 14] in front of a capacity crowd at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville.

The two-hour ordination was performed by the Most Rev. Robert J. Baker, bishop of Charleston.

Michael Phillip, a member of St. Mary's Church, said, "It's a special event."

The Rev. Longenecker's first act as priest was to bless Bishop Baker. Longenecker said in a written statement that he thanked his parents for raising him in a Christian home. He said, "I thank God for the Christian faith of my mother and father, and for the long heritage of devout Protestant Christianity in which my family is rooted."

He added, "My journey to the Catholic priesthood has been a long and wonderful adventure. I do not consider my Catholic faith to be a rejection of the past, but a fulfillment of all that has gone before."

Baker said the new priest will continue his role at St. Joseph's.

Methinks there is more to this story and, hurrah, you can go to Longenecker's homepage and blog and see some of the missed details.

That Protestant background? This man is a graduate of Bob Jones University, the world-famous fundamentalist Christian campus that has caused a few media storms in the past with its views on Roman Catholicism. Oh, and Bob Jones University is located where? That would be Greenville, S.C.

But there is more to this very interesting non-story. This man has also studied at Oxford University and spent some time in Cambridge, England, as well. He has served as an Anglican priest. He is married and has four children.

So what did this story need to get some serious attention in a Gannett newsroom in the same zip code as this rather symbolic ordination service? Don't tell me that the editors avoid covering stories linking Bob Jones and Rome? You just know there were people in town who pitched this story to the newspaper over and over again.

Hat tip to Amy at Open Book.

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