St. Paul Episcopal Church's Father Paul Nesta moved to La Porte with his family about two years ago to become the leader of the Church. As his role as pastor, he has been working on making La Porte a better place for everyone.
At a young age, after listening to speaker at his youth camp, Nesta sensed that God was calling him into the ministry.
(Editorial Note: Nesta grew up attending non-denominational churches and was introduced to the Episcopal Churchin college. It was the liturgical worship and sense of historical grounding that eventually won him over.)
“When I was sixteen I went to a youth retreat in Wisconsin, near where I grew up, and I remember my youth pastor coming up to us after one of the talks and saying 'Hey, how do you think God may be working in your heart?'," he explained. "I said, 'I really think God might be calling me to ministry.'”
He and his family came from Wisconsin and have enjoyed the Midwestern feel on La Porte.
“I like it a lot here," he explained. "Being a Midwesterner I think there a lot of similarities. I think I have a good grasp on Midwestern culture and values. I enjoy the area.”
He is a member of the Human Rights Commission in La Porte, recently been reenacted by Mayor Blair Milo, who invited Nesta to fill the role.
“Being so new, we’re trying to create awareness about who we are, and what we do,” said Nesta, “A lot of us are trying to create awareness that there is a Human Rights Commission in La Porte, and the sort of services that we offer to people who think they have been discriminated against.”
Nesta, through his church, also started an after-school program for the youth of La Porte.
“I noticed kids would walk by the church after school," he explained. "Many of them would go into local establishments in our neighborhood, but because the kids are rowdy they would get kicked out. So, I sat down with some people from the church, and we started to look at what an after-school program would look like.”
The program started in April and is set to officially launch in the fall. Through a creative partnership with The Emerging Sound, Nesta has enjoyed being able to provide a safe place for youths to come and mingle with other children.
Nesta is also a recent graduate of Leadership La Porte County, a group that engages emerging leaders and highlights different parts of the county life, such as the judicial system, the education system, and a variety of social services. The group also promotes leadership development.
Nesta explained, “For those who participate, we come to recognize the many components that make La Porte County great and also confront areas where it can grow to become even better for its residents. We discover what we are passionate about, and we're given tools to focus that passion and direct it towards enriching our respective communities."
He and his family love the area, and hope to be here for many years to come, continuing to make an impact in the community through St. Paul's, the HRC, Leadership La Porte County, and the Neighborhood Accountability Board - a program for non-violent juvenile offenders that seeks alternative methods of rehabilitation. The program should be up and running in a couple of months.