Bishop Matano set to ordain Gates native to the priesthood - Catholic Courier

Bishop Matano set to ordain Gates native to the priesthood

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Six years ago, Deacon James Muscatella walked away from a job in education, said goodbye to family and friends, and left home for the first time to enter the seminary.

“This was all new to me,” he said. “I had no notion, no guide before going into seminary.”

After two years in Boston and four years in Rome, Deacon Muscatella now is looking forward to returning home for his priestly ordination in June.

“How quickly six years passes from entering seminary, but also how much life can be packed into that amount of time,” he observed.

Deacon Muscatella will be ordained by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano June 29 during a 10 a.m. Mass at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

“It will change my life,” said Deacon Muscatella, who will turn 31 May 25. “In a very real way, I will be changed. I will be given a mark on my soul that will unite me to Christ in a very unique way.”

Deacon Muscatella felt called to the priesthood to serve God and his people

A native of Gates, Deacon Muscatella grew up in St. Jude Church, now known as the Parish of the Holy Family in Gates. He likes to note that he was the first infant baptized in the current church building, which opened in 1993.

After graduating from Spencerport High School in 2011, Deacon Muscatella enrolled at Roberts Wesleyan College (now Roberts Wesleyan University) with the intention of becoming a teacher. He graduated from Roberts in 2015 and became a behavioral assistant and substitute teacher for the Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES alternative high school.

While working at BOCES, Deacon Muscatella assisted with the youth-ministry program at Parish of the Holy Family and became more involved in young-adult ministry in the parish and diocese. It was then that he felt more of a calling to the priesthood.

“I felt more and more of a sense that life can be very beautifully lived if it is in service of God and his people,” he explained to the Catholic Courier in 2023.

After three years with BOCES, he entered the seminary in 2018. He attended St. John’s Seminary in Boston for his first two years of formation before continuing his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. During his summer breaks, he served at St. Jerome Parish in East Rochester and the parishes of St. Mary, St. Mary & Martha and Our Lady of the Snow in Auburn.

Deacon James Muscatella reflected on his vocational calling ahead of his ordination to the priesthood.

Deacon Muscatella never imagined he would be ordained in Rome

In St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican this past September, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City ordained Deacon Muscatella as a transitional deacon along with 18 of his North American College classmates. Deacon Muscatella remembers telling his former BOCES coworkers that if he ever went abroad, that he would love to go at least once to Rome and see St. Peter’s. Never did he think he would be ordained inside one of the holiest Catholic sites.

“It was extraordinary,” he recalled.

Deacon Muscatella noted that following Communion at the ordination Mass, he went behind the altar, looked up at the baldacchino (canopy) over the altar, and back, taking time to realize what was actually happening.

“What a gift from God,” he said. “It was just an elation and a joy.”

His parents, Karen and James Muscatella, were joined at the liturgy by Fathers Roman Caly, Joseph Martuscello and Kevin McKenna from the Rochester Diocese, who also traveled to Rome for the ordination.

“Three very different priests showed up, and three of the most important priests in my life,” he said.

Deacon Muscatella feels ‘unbelievable joy’ in being in Rome

Since his diaconal ordination, Deacon Muscatella has been doing a yearlong diploma program in spirituality at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, where he received his bachelor’s degree in theology at the end of last year. He also has been serving as a deacon at daily and Sunday Masses at the seminary.

Recently, he ministered as a deacon during a Lenten Mass at the Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles in Rome, and previously also served at the papal Christmas Eve Mass.

Reflecting on his four years in Rome, Deacon Muscatella said he never imagined that he would be taking classes from priests, women religious, lay men and women from all over the world and that he would develop friendships with seminarians from all over the U.S. and the world. He also has enjoyed being about a 10-minute walk from St. Peter’s Square and attending Pope Francis’ Angelus addresses on Sundays.

“It’s the joy of the universal church,” Deacon Muscatella said about living in Rome. “I get to see the world come together to see the Holy Father, and I get to be there and pray to Our Lady, to Our Father with the Holy Father and see people from all over, all different languages there praying. It’s unbelievable joy.”

Deacon Muscatella will celebrate his first Mass June 30

Deacon Muscatella will celebrate his first Mass at 2 p.m. June 30 at the Parish of the Holy Family. The liturgy is open to the public.

He said it is “unreal” that he will be celebrating his first Mass where he received the sacraments of baptism, Communion and reconciliation.

“It’s home, it’s home, it is where I was raised in the faith,” Deacon Muscatella said of the Parish of the Holy Family. “It’s beyond words all these great things coming.”

Tags: Holy Orders, Monroe County West
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