Sunday, November 29, 2015 • 07:57

St. Francis's interim pastor learns about his new parish

Father Steven Schuneman, interim pastor at St. Francis Church in Pauma Valley, in his study.
August 21, 2013
Father Steven Schuneman took over as interim pastor at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Pauma Valley in July. Joe Patronik, the pastor at St. Francis for many years, has moved to Monterrey.

Father Steven was ordained a priest in 1982. He and his wife Annette currently live in Oceanside. From Sterling, Ill. originally, Father Steven has served a variety of parishes, mainly in the Midwest, including churches in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Annette is from Del Mar, and it was because she wanted to be near her relatives that they finally moved to Southern California several years ago.

Schuneman has been semi-retired for several years after taking early retirement. He had actually been the substitute pastor at St. Francis upon occasion, so he knows the little church community of about 100 members.

"It's a wonderful, beautiful facility," he told The Roadrunner. "I love the grounds here. It's clean, it's just a really nice small church with lovely stained glass windows. We have a great church organ and a great organist to play it: Brett Michael Hauser."

Father Steven sees his mission as interim pastor to continue, "the wonderful ministry of Father Joe Patronik and to help them move from Joe to a new priest who will have new ideas and find their identity as a parish again. Part of my job is to help them celebrate Joe and let go."

During the coming months of his interim ministry Father Steven will help his parishioners to decide what their vision is, "acknowledging that things have changed, different, different fathers, different dynamics of what Sunday mornings are like. It's about giving them a sense of confirming that they have a good future ahead of them. That's really important," said Schuneman.

Interim priests actually go to classes to teach them how to deal with this delicate, yet promising time for a church, says Father Steven. They meet with other interim priests and talk about their unique situations and what they have in common. They discuss how to involve their new parishioners in decisions that will affect them. "Sometimes we give them a chance to try new things. It's important to be open to new ideas and ways of doing things. Many of those ideas will come from them," he said.

He's still getting to know the people of his parish. "They are certainly good folks. They have all been kind and generous to me," he said.

One of the pastor's outside interests is as a videographer. He and his wife shoot wedding videos for 15 years. He is a great movie buff, and spent some time with the writer of this piece talking about all of the latest movies that have been released!

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