Fr. James Muscatella is Rochester Diocese’s newest priest - Catholic Courier
A priest blesses a person who is kneeling.

Father James Muscatella gives a blessing following the priest ordination Mass June 29. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Fr. James Muscatella is Rochester Diocese’s newest priest

ROCHESTER — As rain showers steadily fell outside Sacred Heart Cathedral June 29, those gathered inside welcomed the diocese’s newest priest with showers of prayer, love and well wishes.

It was enough to render newly ordained Father James Muscatella momentarily speechless following the ordination Mass.

“It’s more than I can say, because the love of Jesus Christ that would call any of us to the lives that we were meant is beyond words,” Father Muscatella told the Catholic Courier.

Bishop Salvatore R. Matano ordained Father Muscatella during the 10 a.m. liturgy. With a big smile on his face, then-Deacon Muscatella processed into the cathedral with diocesan deacons before taking his seat next to his parents, Karen and James Muscatella.

After the readings and the proclamation of the Gospel, Father Paul J. Tomasso presented Deacon Muscatella to Bishop Matano and testified to the candidate’s worthiness, prompting applause from family, friends, and the priests and deacons gathered inside the filled cathedral as the sign of their assent.

Then, seated in front of Bishop Matano, Deacon Muscatella looked directly at the shepherd of the diocese and listened as the bishop spoke of the witness of Ss. Peter and Paul, whose solemnity is celebrated June 29.

Bishop Matano reminds Deacon Muscatella of his purpose

In his homily, Bishop Matano also shared the words of the late Pope Benedict XVI, given on the occasion of his Solemn Mass of inauguration as pope in 2005, during which he told the world that the purpose of their lives is to reveal God to others and that only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.

“To this I humbly add,” Bishop Matano said, “and then love like Christ, but not without the path of sacrifice and spiritual martyrdom, surrendering your will to the will of Christ. It’s now your life’s all-consuming work to reveal God’s love to his people, to command the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, to raise your hand in benediction, in reconciliation in the sacrament of reconciliation, confession, in healing, preach his word, and to bestow his mercy and compassion, especially upon the sick and dying in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.”

“If you do all of this with a zealous, vibrant faith, a sacrificial spirit and a loving heart, you will also inspire other young men to follow the call of Jesus Christ to be priests,” Bishop Matano told Deacon Muscatella.

Ordination contained special moments for Father Muscatella

After the homily, Deacon Muscatella knelt before Bishop Matano and made a promise of respect and obedience before prostrating himself in the center aisle of the cathedral for the litany of supplication as family and friends knelt in prayer that God “pour forth heavenly gifts in abundance” on him.

The two-and-a-half-hour liturgy included the ancient and essential priestly ordination ritual of the Laying on of Hands, during which Deacon Muscatella knelt before Bishop Matano, who laid hands atop his head, calling down the Holy Spirit upon him. Then the priests in attendance, both of the Rochester Diocese and friends of Deacon Muscatella’s from across the country and world, laid their hands on Deacon Muscatella. Bishop Matano then prayed the Prayer of Ordination conferring the priestly office upon him.

It was a memorable moment, Father Muscatella told the Courier following his ordination.

“It was sort of a waterfall experience of this is what your life has been, this is what you have been preparing for and these are the people that have been in your life,” he said. “Then a few short moments later, I was standing, dressed as a priest and embracing them as their brother.”

Following the Prayer of Ordination, the investiture of stole and chasuble was assisted by Father William Leone, pastor of St. Jerome Church in East Rochester, where Father Muscatella spent a summer assignment in 2022. After Father Muscatella was vested, Bishop Matano anointed Father Muscatella’s hands with sacred chrism before handing him the chalice and paten containing the bread and wine, which points to the sacred duty of priests to offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Bishop Matano and the priests then welcomed Father Muscatella into the Order of Priest with the fraternal sign of peace.

After the conclusion of Mass and the recessional hymn, Father Muscatella stood in front of the altar and imparted his first priestly blessings on family and friends.

Father Muscatella looking forward to priestly ministry

A native of Gates, Father Muscatella, who turned 31 on May 25, entered seminary in 2018 after spending three years as a behavioral assistant and substitute teacher for the Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES alternative high school. He spent his first two years of formation at St. John’s Seminary in Boston before continuing his studies at Pontifical North American College in Rome. He was ordained a deacon, along with 18 of his North American College classmates, at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Sept. 28, 2023.

Father Muscatella will celebrate his first Mass of thanksgiving as a priest on June 30 at 2 p.m. at the Parish of the Holy Family in Gates. He will begin his first assignment July 5 as parochial vicar at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes in Owego, Tioga County.

“I look forward to seeing what every day brings and where Jesus Christ will take me in those days,” Father Muscatella said of his new priestly ministry.

Tags: Holy Orders
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