Final sermons set for this Sunday
FINAL SUNDAY — Pastor Gary Rusinko will deliver his final sermons at Zion Lutheran and St. Paul’s Lutheran this Sunday, May 12. (Star Eagle photo by Kathy Paulsen)
By KATHY PAULSEN
Some individuals have a special zest for living. They are interested and committed to doing many things. Such an individual is Pastor Gary Rusinko.
“Pastor Gary” has been an important and successful participant in various occupations that always seemed to be serving others, which he did and continued as he became a minister of God's Word.
Rusinko and his wife, Penny, grew up in Northeast Minneapolis. He served with the Rochester Police Department for six years, and attended Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Rochester.
He then decided to change his profession, and went to work for Mills Fleet Farm in Lakeville. The family moved and joined Hosanna Lutheran Church.
Rusinko was active at both churches where he and his family had been members, but he came to believe that he needed to serve his Lord as a minister.
During his 16 years with Fleet Farm, he worked his way up, finishing as store manager before he was called into the Ministry. Fleet Farm permitted him to attend Luther Seminary while he continued to work for the company.
Rusinko started at Luther Seminary in 1990 and graduated in 1994. He accepted his first call, to a two-point parish with Zion Lutheran of rural Lemond and St. Paul’s Lutheran at Meriden, in 1995.
Both churches where he has been serving are fairly new buildings. Both the Zion Lutheran Church and the St. Paul’s congregation lost their churches to fire, in 1991 and 2000, and went on to rebuild.
Rusinko has performed a large number of baptisms, weddings and funerals, visited a great number of people in the hospital and nursing homes over the years, confirmed many students in the Lutheran faith, as well as lead a great number of worship services, including special holiday services at Easter and Christmas, something he will miss.
Over the years, Rusinko has been involved with coaching football and golf in Owatonna. He started out volunteering his time with the football program at the Owatonna High School, and was later hired as one of their varsity and B-Squad coaches, and has been coaching there for the past 14 years. He also helps with the boys’ golf team, and hopes to be able to continue coaching after he retires from the ministry.
Rusinko appreciates being able to get to know a large number of high school kids over the years. He has really enjoyed seeing many of them after they graduated. During their visits, he has been able to learn about what careers they pursued, as well as about their families. Keeping in touch with people has been a rewarding part of his life.
Gary and Penny have three children, Brian, Kari and Holly. Brian is married and the father of two daughters, and he and his family live in Dallas – Ft. Worth, Texas area. Neither Kari or Holly are married at this time. Kari lives in New York and Holly lives in Florida.
Gary and Penny are looking forward to being able to travel more after he retires and hope to be able to spend more time visiting with their children.
Penny has had a rewarding career as well. She began working with the American Bank in Mendota Heights while the Rusinkos lived in Lakeville, and she continues there now, commuting every day.
Due to Rusinko’s retirement, the family had to go house hunting, as they would no longer be able to live in the church parsonage. They are pleased they were able to find a home in Owatonna.
In retirement, Rusinko plans on doing woodworking, playing golf and working around the house. He also plans on looking into Habitat for Humanity in the Owatonna and Waseca areas, as well as the Grandparents for Education program in Owatonna.
We wish him a very blessed retirement and hope he continues to live a rich and happy life.
On Sunday, April 28, St. Paul’s Lutheran at Meriden held an Open House for Pastor Gary, and Zion Lutheran held a farewell party for Pastor Rusinko on Saturday May 4.
Pastor Rusinko will lead his last worship services with these congregations on Sunday, May 12th.