Island bids farewell to Deacon Steve Hester
Through three long and loud ovations at the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Andrew Catholic Church on June 19, Deacon Steve Hester and his wife Laura signed off after a four-year parish engagement here on Block Island, with one last homily.
Hester has accepted a position with a large parish in Lexington, Kentucky where he will serve as the parish administrator managing all functions and activities. Hester was involved with the same parish previously for 15 years. The progressive parish has over 2,000 families, a large, attached school, and is indicative of where the Catholic Church is moving facing a dwindling
number of priests.
Steve left the island on June 20, and Laura and their daughters will follow at the end of August.
Increasingly, dioceses are moving to professional administrators who handle all the administrative functions of the parish, leaving priests to handle the sacraments. Priests increasingly are juggling two, even three parishes at once, including weddings, funerals, first communions, hospital visits, etc., while tending to the ongoing spiritual needs of the parishioners. The role of a professional administrator in handling facilities, planning, finances and activities is more pronounced than ever, and Hester can uniquely assist with both as a full-time deacon as well.
Hester is looking forward to the busy new challenge and a return to Lexington, but the husband and wife duo is clearly melancholy about leaving Block Island behind where they were so involved. Laura handled CCD, the choir, and many parish activities. Where you found one you always encountered the
other. Steve often gave the homily year-round at Mass on Sundays bringing a family viewpoint based on real-life experiences as a dad of two daughters who went to school here.
Rev. Joe Protano, the longtime pastor of St. Andrew, lamented Sunday at Mass losing them both at the same time. “They do so much for this parish and community. I have said it before and I say it again loudly, in everything they did they brought a degree of excellence and professionalism that will be sorely missed.”
Following the 10 a.m. Mass, the congregation moved with surprising speed to Aldo’s where a smorgasbord of hot and cold food, as well as desserts served as a nice way for the community to toast the Hesters one last time, Italian style. “Salute!”