Stephen Wiest was many things.
He was a bluesman and harmonica virtuoso (see this video for a nice example of his harp blowing-he is on the second of the three songs in the video, starting at about the 3 minute mark). He played with Lil Rev, and many others. He was an invaluable part of the Milwaukee music scene. And he brought his musical ear, his musical sense, to bear in his ministry.
He was a scholar, whose mastery of ancient Greek combined with his rare grasp of the gospel led him to his doctoral studies at Marquette University, culminating in a PhD in Biblical studies with his voluminous dissertation on the Stephen section of Acts, a masterpiece of christological typology. For a few short years it was notable that there was precisely one priest on the entire Marquette campus who could be counted on to be dressed in his collar (even soutaned) and to have the ability to see through, rather than buy into, higher criticism. Exactly one, and it wasn't one of the Jesuits. It was Stephen Wiest. And Marquette was blessed to have him. The terms of his fellowship there allowed him to teach the required introductory theology course to many undergraduates, young Marquette students who got to read much scripture, along with Ratzinger, Luther, Ignatius of Loyola, and many other writers, and sit at the feet of a skilled teacher of the gospel.
He was a husband, a father, and a godfather. His widow and daughters today are strong Christian women, whose lives bear witness to his influence.
He was also a great preacher, a highly skilled father confessor, and a uniquely qualified university campus pastor, so much so that his LC-MS district overlords were incapable of appreciating him (so incapable that I almost can't blame them, except that I must blame them for their treatment of him and of the ministry of the gospel in the UWM community).
He was a consummate intellectual, and a consummate friend. A great combination. For among other things it led to late night conversations (also mid-morning, and late afternoon) on not only cultural issues, and churchly topics, but also his thoughts on Homer's Greek, or Luther's writings, or Augustine's career, or the Oxford Movement, and always on the current mass pericope.
Why do I have these things on my mind, and why bring them up here today? Why not? Besides, perhaps it is partly because, midway upon the journey of my life, I find myself in a dusky wood, and such a situation brings one to reflect on the good and bad that has come to pass. Besides that, however, a friend gave me permission to publish here a photo of his, which includes Fr. Wiest. Pictures of him seem so rare. At least to me. In those days I did not own a camera; it was before the facebook age; it was before the cell phone age; it predated the Internet age. (I know that some of these things existed, but you get my meaning.) So I cherish the few mementos I find, of Fr. Wiest's life, and of the period when mine intersected with his. We will let the family behind the baptismal font in the photo remain anonymous to everyone who does not already know them. The taller man in the collar is Father Wiest, his good wife in front of him. It was prior to his beard days. Either way, it brings back many memories. Big thank you to my friend who gave me the use of the picture. And thank you Stephen, for your continuing influence. I should assure the reader that Fr. Wiest was an influence also on men who have actually been successful in life. I am the quirk, the exception, which might simply prove the rule.