Shortly after celebrating his 47th anniversary into the priesthood, Father Ernie found out he has stage 2 pancreatic cancer. He has been placed on medical leave by Bishop Taylor, and he is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments. To be up to date on his recovery, please visit this link on our website.
May 19, 2022
The St. Leo’s family would like to publicly announce that Father Ernest Hardesty has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He is in the initial phases of discovering his illness, so he does not currently have a lot of answers. We will make additional announcements as he obtains more information. As of now, Father Ernie has been placed on medical leave, which will allow him to focus on his health. He will continue to do as much as he can for his parishes including saying Masses, performing Baptisms, etc. as long as he is able to do so. Bishop Anthony B. Taylor appointed Father Mauricio Carrasco as Administrator and Father Martin Amaro Associate Administrator of both the Church of the Assumption in Atkins and St. Leo the Great Catholic University Parish in Russellville. They will assist in covering Sunday Masses and other sacramental responsibilities as well as take on the administrative duties of the parishes until Father Ernie can return full time. We will keep you informed as he gets more information. Please pray for his healing! We know many of you want to help him in any way you can, for which we are so very grateful. As of now, he is doing well and does not need anything but your prayers. We know this may change in the future, and we will keep you informed of his status. We deeply thank you for your love and concern! If you have any questions, please call our offices at 479-968-8249.
May 25, 2022
Father Ernie received his diagnosis of Stage 2 Pancreatic Cancer. He will begin Chemotherapy Treatments in the next couple of weeks. We are currently working on a way to coordinate assistance for Father Ernie, so you may volunteer to do things for him. When we get this set up, we will provide you with more information. Father Ernie would like to thank you for the love, prayers, cards, food, and the messages you have sent. You are all in his prayers! We will continue to keep you posted on his treatments and how he is doing. Please continue praying! You are all so wonderful! Father Ernie’s sister, Catherine asked us to pass on to you how much Fr. Ernie’s family appreciates all that is being done for him. Fr. Ernie assured her they don’t need to come because of all you are doing to help him.
June 3, 2022
Father is receiving chemotherapy today. PLEASE say some extra prayers for him today and for the next couple of days!He is doing well thus far, but we all know this is likely to change after today. Thank you to all those who have reached out to him! It has really lifted his spirits. He has greatly appreciated all the calls, texts, messages, cards, and show of love towards him! We are working on something that will allow you to help him in his healing process, and we will make an announcement about it shortly. But until then, prayers are greatly appreciated! THANK YOU ALL!!!
June 6, 2022
Father received his first round of chemotherapy on Friday afternoon. He is doing well considering. He has the typical symptoms of fatigue, some pain, and struggling with eating, but we hope the symptoms will subside over the next couple of days. He will have three more rounds before they run tests again, so please keep him in your prayers. We will continue to update you throughout the process. He is in good spirits and appreciates all those that have reached out to him. THANK YOU!
June 8, 2022
Father Ernie has been admitted to UAMS Medical Center for follow up tests and assistance with his nutrition. He is not accepting visitors at this time, but once this changes we will let you know. Please keep praying for him!
June 13, 2022
After steadily improving almost to the point of setting a release date from the hospital, Father had a major set back yesterday. The doctors don’t know what exactly is causing the set back, but his body is struggling to over come it. He is currently in ICU with a breathing tube to assist with his labored breathing. We ask all our prayer warriors to pray for him as soon as and as often as possible. Because he is in ICU, he cannot have visitors at this time. Please pray for him and his family!
June 14, 2022
As of today, Father is doing slightly better. According to his blood work, he is showing signs of improvement. So thank you for all the prayers, but please keep them coming! This will be a longer road to recovery than we expected, but he is slowly improving. Thank you again for all the prayers! We at St. Leo’s as well as his family greatly appreciate it!
June 16, 2022
Father Ernie is still in ICU where they continue to monitor his test results and hope he continues to improve. He had surgery this morning that dealt with some of the complications he faced that caused his setback while in the hospital. He remains sedated on the ventilator, but is doing well with this treatment and the hope is he will be removed from it soon.The results of his tests in the upcoming days will determine the next steps to be taken with his treatment. Please keep those prayers coming for his healing as well as for his family.
June 20, 2022
Father Ernie is still in ICU. The doctors have decided to remove the breathing tube and place a trach in its place. This should help with mobility, comfort, as well as decrease the chances for pneumonia to set in. His wounds from surgery are improving and his blood pressure is good without the assistance of medication. The doctors are monitoring for infection and wanting him to be more awake and responsive. We ask all our prayer warriors to continue to pray for him and his family.
June 23, 2022
Father Ernie is still in ICU at UAMS. He has slowly and steadily shown signs of improvement over the last few days. He is more awake and alert. Bishop Taylor and Fr. Marconi have visited and anointed him, and several seminarians have come to visit him. Please continue to pray for Father Ernie and his family.
June 26, 2022
Father has been moved out of ICU at UAMS. Due to the trach he is unable to talk, but he is awake and responsive and can communicate yes or no responses or a thumbs up. His body is very weak and struggling to function. It is not absorbing nutrients. So I ask you to please pray for him, that he finds comfort and peace and feels God’s presence with him. And please pray for his family and all the many friends and loved ones that hold him near and dear to their hearts. He is allowed four visitors at a time now, but please keep in mind that he has a large family and that at least two people are typically there at a time.
June 28, 2002
Father Ernie is still at UAMS. He is still breathing through his trach. His body is still not absorbing nutrients as we would hope. With the lack of nutrition, he is becoming less responsive and pain is a concern. After visiting with physicians, his family’s focus is to make him as comfortable as possible while giving him the best care available.
We urge you if you have not done so already and would like to do so, please complete the form to leave him a message as soon as possible. We want everyone to have the chance to send your love and support to him. You can also go to the St. Leo’s website to see all the beautiful messages that others have shared.
Here is the Link to the form:
July 1, 2022
Fr. Ernie’s condition continues to decline. He is now in Hospice. Please pray for him and his family and friends. Please also continue to send your Celebrate Fr. Ernie posts. Your words help not only Fr. Ernie but all of his family and friends as well. We all laugh and cry as you share your fond memories with Fr. Ernie. Your stories are all testaments to his life of service to God and His people.
July 3, 2022
Father Ernie always amazes us with his strength and fortitude. He continues to fight until the end. Sadly, his fight will soon come to an end, but we can take comfort knowing that he’ll be going home to be with the Lord. Your words of love, humor, and his importance in your lives means a lot to him, his family, and his larger Church family. They must be sustaining him and all of us now. Please continue to pray for him and send in your stories about Fr. Ernie.