By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN He’s only been the senior associate pastor of Holy Trinity in Winsted since July 2, but Fr. Paul Schumacher is no stranger to the area.
Years ago, while serving in Silver Lake, Darwin, and Hutchinson, Schumacher became friends with many people from nearby communities.
“It’s exciting there are good people all over,” he said.
Schumacher now leads weekday Masses in Winsted, and rotates weekend services with Fr. Patrick Okonkwo in Silver Lake and Fr. Anthony Stubeda in Glencoe.
Those who’ve heard Schumacher preach are likely to remember his use of visual aids.
“I had an apron during my first homily, as a sign of service,” he said.
For Schumacher, having the opportunity to serve was one of the reasons he became a priest in the first place.
“We’re here to share in God’s love together,” he said. “That’s what we’re all about.”
Schumacher’s interest in priesthood was sparked by a man who served in his tiny Minnesota hometown of Leavenworth, near Springfield.
“Way back when, thousands of years ago when I was growing up, my church had a pastor named Father Plaschko,” he said. “He was a favorite of my folks, so he was around our farm place a lot.”
In ninth grade, Schumacher went to a preparatory priest school in St. Paul called Nazareth Hall. There, he finished high school and completed his first two years of college.
Schumacher’s last two years of undergraduate studies, as well as four years of graduate work, took place at St. Paul Seminary (now part of the University of St. Thomas).
Schumacher’s 12 years of seminary education, from 1950 to 1962, were “very regimented,” but he didn’t mind.
“That’s what we were used to,” he said.
After his training, Schumacher was ordained for the Diocese of New Ulm. As Minnesota’s most rural diocese, the group includes 76 parishes and four oratories in 15 counties: Big Stone, Brown, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Nicollet, Redwood, Renville, Sibley, Swift, and Yellow Medicine.
“When you work for the diocese, you work with almost every parish,” Schumacher said.
Throughout the years, Schumacher kept busy as the religious director for the diocese, as well as the director of campus ministries, and the director of youth and young adult ministries.
“Presently, I continue to direct the HIV/AIDS ministry for the diocese,” he said. “I was assigned there in the mid ‘80s, when AIDS came to Minnesota.”
Schumacher is also on the advisory committee for Catholic Charities, and does prison ministry retreat work throughout the state.
Before coming to Winsted, Schumacher served as senior associate pastor at the Church of Holy Redeemer in Marshall.
Although he’s in his 70s, Schumacher isn’t ready to step to the sidelines just yet.
“I could have retired six years ago, but I wanted to do exciting things,” he said.
Now celebrating his 50th year of priesthood, Schumacher is reaping the rewards of his profession.
“I get to be very involved in people’s lives the ups and downs,” he said.
One of Schumacher’s favorite pastimes is going out for coffee.
“It’s a good way to find out what’s important in people’s lives. And, it gives me material for my homilies,” he said with a laugh.