AUBURN — James Muscatella has been inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome several times, but when he steps inside on Sept. 28, he will be taking a big step on his path to the diocesan priesthood.
That’s because Muscatella, along with approximately 20 classmates from the Pontifical North American College in Rome, will be ordained transitional deacons that day by Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.
“After five years, it is amazing to see how our Lord has helped me grow toward him,” Muscatella said of his upcoming ordination. “It is a wonderful walk I have taken. I just couldn’t be happier.”
By saying ‘yes’ to vocation, seminarian has new experiences
A native of Gates, Muscatella entered the seminary in 2018. He studied at St. John’s Seminary in Boston for two years before Bishop Matano asked him to consider continuing his studies at North American College. Prior to living in Boston, Muscatella had never lived outside his family home. He did not even have a passport.
“What was really going through my mind (when asked to go to Rome) is that this is where he (our Lord) is calling me to be,” Muscatella recalled. “You are being asked to go to the ‘Eternal City,’ to go near the Vatican and be near the Holy Father. Imagine all the good our Lord will do with this ‘yes.’”
Muscatella received his bachelor’s degree in theology from North American College this past spring. He spent the summer at St. Mary, Our Lady of the Snow and Ss. Mary and Martha in Auburn, Weedsport and Cato, working alongside Fathers Frank Lioi and Joseph Martuscello, the pastor and parochial vicar of the three parishes.
“I have been going around to these different churches — three parishes with five churches — and meeting the people, praying alongside them,” Muscatella told the Catholic Courier Aug. 9. “I have been serving at Mass and just getting to see what Catholic life is like in the eastern part of the diocese.”
Family, friends will travel to Rome for Muscatella’s ordination
Muscatella returned to Europe Aug. 19. He spent two weeks along the Switzerland border near Lake Maggiore working on his Italian before returning to the seminary Sept. 2. Before his diaconal ordination, Muscatella will prepare spiritually by participating in a silent retreat with his classmates.
His parents, Karen and James, will travel to Rome to see him ordained as a transitional deacon. Three priests of the Diocese of Rochester — Fathers Martuscello, Kevin McKenna and Roman Caly — also will travel to Rome for the occasion.
“It’s a very humbling thing that someone would fly across the ocean to be with me on this very important day,” Muscatella remarked.
His diaconal ordination will mark the first time in 10 years that a seminarian from the Diocese of Rochester has been ordained in Rome. Father Peter Van Lieshout, now rector of Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, was the last transitional deacon ordained in Rome in 2013.
A special connection
On Sept. 29, the day after his ordination, Muscatella will preach his first Mass at the Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles in Rome. The basilica holds special significance for Muscatella, as it holds relics of St. James and St. Philip. Muscatella’s full name is James Philip Muscatella.
“I was named for my father’s father and mother’s father,” he explained. “They (my parents) did not know that these saints were buried together, that these two saints share a feast day, but I feel a special connection.”
Muscatella is scheduled to be ordained a diocesan priest at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral in the early summer of 2024. Until then, he will continue his studies at the North American College before returning home at the end of June 2024.
“When Jimmy first entered (the seminary) when he was 25, I’m not so sure he was so sure that this day would happen,” Muscatella said of his impending priestly ordination. “He needed to grow quite a lot, and by the grace of God, and with the help of many good priests and others, he has.”Tags: Holy Orders