For many years, James Muscatella has helped young people in the church, but this fall, he’s looking forward to a new ministry.
On Sept. 28 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Muscatella will be ordained a transitional deacon on the path to the diocesan priesthood. Along with about 20 classmates from Pontifical North American College in Rome he will be ordained by Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.
“I get to serve at Mass. I get to proclaim the Gospel, the words from God that struck my heart. I will be able to preach,” Muscatella said of becoming a deacon. “I’ll be there at the altar and looking forward to one day being the priest whose hands hold the host as consecrated by Christ. Approaching all these very beautiful things that called me (to the priesthood) now I’m going to be a part of that, like an instrument in God’s hands. It’s unreal.”
Muscatella grew up helping out at his parish in Gates
A native of Gates, Muscatella grew up attending St. Jude Church, now the Parish of the Holy Family. In fact, Muscatella was the first infant to be baptized in the current church building, which opened in 1993.
As he was growing up, his family — parents, Karen and Jim, and younger brother, Anthony — were very involved at St. Jude Church. Karen was a kindergarten religious-education teacher and assisted with the parish’s Vacation Bible School.
“I was around church a lot. I wasn’t an athlete in school. I didn’t play any instruments in the school band. A lot of what I did, outside of my academics, was sort of church related,” said Muscatella, 29, noting that he helped with Vacation Bible School and religious education.
Muscatella had originally planned to be a teacher
Upon graduating from Spencerport High School in 2011, Muscatella enrolled at Roberts Wesleyan College (now Roberts Wesleyan University) with the intention of becoming a teacher. Yet during his college years he also contemplated a vocation to the priesthood and had some conversations about priesthood with the late Father Michael Schramel, then-pastor of St. Jude Church. Meanwhile, Muscatella continued to pursue his career in education. After graduating from Roberts Wesleyan in 2015, he became a behavioral assistant and substitute teacher for Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES’s alternative high school.
“Between working with the students and working with very good, supportive and formative coworkers at BOCES, they really helped me open up and see how I can be part of something good,” he recalled.
While working at BOCES, Muscatella assisted with the Parish of the Holy Family’s youth-ministry program. He was also getting more involved with 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.
Muscatella switched gears in 2018 and entered seminary
Despite enjoying his work, Muscatella felt it was time to answer the call to a priestly vocation. After three years at 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 North American College in Rome.
“It’s been a great joy to live near the Holy Father, to be able to pray with him regularly at the Angelus, to attend papal Masses, and to learn and pray alongside brothers from all over the country,” Muscatella said of his life in Rome.
Muscatella is looking forward to his ordination as a transitional deacon
After finishing his third year of theology studies in June, Muscatella will return home for a summer assignment in the Rochester Diocese, before heading back to Rome in early September. In the days prior to his diaconal ordination, he will prepare spiritually by participating in a silent retreat with his classmates.
Muscatella’s parents and some friends will travel to Rome to see him ordained as a transitional deacon. Though the ordination is still a few months away, he said he is looking forward to that day.
“It’s extraordinary to me,” he said. “Ten years ago, I was a long-haired college kid. I always had a life that was full of many, very visible, very tactical blessings, from family to friends, church and everything around. But these years (in seminary), I have been exceptionally happy. The happiest days of my life by far and how much God has given me just by saying yes. I’m looking forward to it.”Tags: Holy Orders, Monroe County West