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Clergy, Staff & Vestry

The Rev'd Benjamin Straley
Rector

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Father Benjamin Straley began as Rector of S. Stephen’s parish on 15 August 2020, the Feast of the Assumption. Prior to his call to S. Stephen’s, Fr. Benjamin served for two years as the Assistant Rector of St. John’s in Essex, Connecticut. While there, his primary focus was pastoral care along with Christian Formation and Adult Education. He was particularly passionate about forming deeper engagement with discipleship and spirituality.  Prior to ordained ministry, Fr. Benjamin was Associate Director of Music and Organist of Washington National Cathedral, and he is a graduate of the Yale School of Music and Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.

 

In his free time, he enjoys cooking, British television, improving his sailing skills, and heaping affection on his pets: two cats named Charlie Brown and Linus, and an Australian Shepherd-Siberian Husky mix named Grace.  Grace is quickly becoming an ambassador for S. Stephen's as she encounters Brown University students around campus!

email: rector@sstephens.org

L. Graham Schultz
Organist & Choirmaster

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A dedicated and passionate church musician, L. Graham Schultz was appointed Organist & Choirmaster of S. Stephen’s in 2023. Previously, he was Interim Director of Music at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Texas, where he oversaw a vibrant music program in one of the nation’s largest Episcopal Churches. Graham holds degrees from Southern Methodist University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Interlochen Arts Academy. In 2019 he earned the prestigious Fellowship certificate from the American Guild of Organists. Mr. Schultz has been heard on BBC Radio 3’s Choral Evensong, American Public Media’s Pipedreams, and national broadcasts of With Heart and Voice.

 

Previously, Mr. Schultz served as the Lloyd Cast Organ Fellow at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, NY where he was principal organist and assisted in overseeing the acclaimed Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys. Prior to his appoint in Albany, Schultz served as Organist & Choirmaster of S. James, Cleveland where he oversaw a storied music program steeped in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. He has studied organ with Stefan Engels, Todd Wilson, Thomas Bara, and Charlie Rigsby as well as harpsichord with James Richman and improvisation with George Baker.

email: music@sstephens.org

Fr. Bill Locke
Assisting Priest

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Fr. Bill Locke was ordained as deacon and priest in Rhode Island by Bishop George Hunt. He served as Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd and then St. Paul's Church, both in Pawtucket. For the past eight years he has been engaged in interim ministry, including a brief time at S. Stephen's. His wife Ethel teaches physics at Woonsocket High School. They have two adult daughters and two grandsons.

Fr. Michael Pearson
Assisting Priest

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Fr. Michael Pearson was ordained to the Diaconate (1977) and the Priesthood (1978)  by Bishop William Weinhauer (Diocese of Western North Carolina).  He has served as the Curate at S. Stephen's Church, Providence (1977 - 1981), the Rector of the Church of the Epiphany, Providence,  Priest Associate at St. Mark's Church, New Canaan, Ct. (1989 - 1992), Rector of St. Luke's Church, Anchorage, Ky. (1992 - 2001), and St. Mary's Church, Wayne, Pa. (2001 - 2012).  Fr.  Pearson retired in 2013 and returned to Rhode Island where he has supplied at various parishes throughout the Diocese. He is married to Julie and they have one grown child.  

Mother Veronica Tierney
Assisting Priest

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Mother Veronica Tierney was ordained deacon (2007) and priest (2008) in the Diocese of Los Angeles.  She began her ordained ministry as a doctoral student in Early Christian Theology at Boston College, earning her PhD in 2018. She has served as Assistant Chaplain at St. George’s School, Middletown, and as Priest-in-Charge at Christ Church, Lincoln and Saints Matthew and Mark, Barrington.  In 2021 she founded a consulting practice focused on helping faith communities improve the business aspects of their ministries.  Prior to ordained ministry, she worked in the investment management industry.  Her husband, Peter, serves St. James Episcopal and St. Mark Lutheran churches in Woonsocket, where they live with their dogs Cruz and Liza.

Andrew Lonardo
Sexton

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Andrew oversees the weekly maintenance and "odd jobs" around the parish, and began working at S. Stephen's in 2021. His primary work is with the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, helping to take care of its properties in Providence and Wickford, as well as the Episcopal Camp and Conference Center in Burrillville. Andrew is most often found at S. Stephen's on weekday afternoons, and is the father of "Little Drew," who sometimes accompanies him to S. Stephen's.

Kiersten Marek
Nursery Coordinator

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Kiersten Marek, LICSW, worked as a therapist in Rhode Island for 29 years. She now works as a Nanny and is a graduate student at Quantic School for Business and Technology, studying to receive her Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA) degree in April of 2025. Her current passions include the care of small children, acrylic painting, and singing karaoke from the 1990's. Kiersten is also the founder and Publisher of Philanthropy Women, a media site dedicated to the discussion of gender lens grantmaking. She is thankful to be part of the St. Stephen's community as the coordinator of the Nursery

Cheryl Foley

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Cheryl comes from Fall River where she is also a bookkeeper for the local Congregational Church where she is a member. She is a proud mother and grandmother, and is typically found at S. Stephen's on Monday mornings unless there is a bank holiday. Cheryl does not have an sstephens.org email address, but any questions about your pledge payments or any checks sent to S. Stephen's can be sent to office@sstephens.org.

 Vestry
The vestry is the governing board of the parish.
They are elected from among their fellow parishioners and oversee the material fabric of our community.

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Thomas Bledsoe

Senior Warden

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Gregory DePardo

Treasurer

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Lynne deBenedette

Class of 2024

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Louis Verdelotti

Class of 2025

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Julia Steiny

Class of 2026

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Ruth Oliver Jolliffe

Class of 2027

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Robert Rose

Junior Warden

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Molly Ellis

Clerk

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Karl Benziger

Class of 2025

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Jennifer DePardo

Class of 2026

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Muriel Jobbers

Class of 2027

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