TEMPLE — The Rev. Steve Sauser, the new pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, has taken an unusual path to the priesthood.
While his emphasis is on serving the families of the church and ministering to the children who attend St. Mary’s Catholic School, Sauser has three children and six grandchildren of his own.
Sauser, who was ordained in 2010, has been in Temple for three weeks. Before that, he served two smaller Texas churches in Fayetteville and Ellinger, and his first assignment was in Pflugerville.
He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years, and after that, worked for a power plant in the Bryan-College Station area for 23 years.
“I was the guy who crawled through all the little holes looking for flaws and leaks,” Sauser said. “My path in life has been very different from most priests.”
He was 47 when he began studying in the permanent deacon program and went from that into the priesthood, Sauser said.
“I was ordained at the age of 53.”
Sauser’s path to the ministry included a divorce and an annulment. Although that experience was difficult,
it prepared him to better understand the difficulties many of the members of his congregation face, he said.
“I think my experiences have prepared me to minister to people in a very compassionate and understanding way,” Sauser said.
“I have a strong concern for children and raising them with a strong foundation of faith. Families and children are a big priority for me.”
Sauser’s path to serving God was not an easy one, he said.
“First off, I have a family of my own, and that’s something you never walk away from,” Sauser said.
“When I called my daughters together to let them know I was quitting my job to go into the seminary, my oldest daughter said, ‘We knew you always would.’
“My youngest daughter wondered if I could still walk her down the aisle. I was able to do that, and still witness her and her husband’s marriage as a priest.”
Sauser said that after getting a divorce, he thought he might remarry, “but God had other plans.”
“It was difficult stepping out in faith, letting go and placing my trust completely in God.”
“I had to walk away from all I had known into the seminary, and that was not an easy task. I went from a three-bedroom, two-bath house into a small room in the seminary about the size of one of those bathrooms.”
Sauser said he takes his grandchildren fishing and camping, “and it’s a really big event for us. I also treat the children in the congregation as if they were my own grandchildren.”
One hobby Sauser said he didn’t leave behind was restoring old cars and trucks.
“Since I was ordained, I found an old truck, a 1955 Chevy pickup, dragged it in and restored it,” Sauser said.
“I was able to rebuild it from the ground up. It’s still a hobby I tinker with.”
Taking the circumstances of his own background, Sauser said he teaches others that God can make something good even out of pain and difficulties.
“Life is an adventure,” he said.
“We never know where God will take us. When we surrender to his plans for our life, it’s a beautiful thing.”