Beliefnet
The Deacon's Bench

One of Miami’s newly ordained priests, Father Randall Mussellman, is shown above offering his first blessing to his two daughters. If that sounds a little out-of-the-ordinary, so is his story:

Born in Indiana, he was raised a Baptist and studied at a Baptist seminary.

“I said, ‘Yeah, I know God’s calling me to something. It’s just that I can’t see the fullness of it yet.’ But definitely the Baptist church didn’t work for me,” he said.

It was not until many years later, having moved to south Florida to work for biomedical testing instruments manufacturer Beckman-Coulter, and having met and married his wife Teresa, a native of Cuba, that Catholicism became an option. When they went to have their marriage convalidated in the Catholic Church, the priest asked if he was interested in converting and handed him the late Bishop Fulton Sheen’s book, “Life in Christ.”

Just to humor him, “I took the book and took it home and threw it up on my bookshelf,” Father Musselman said. “It sat there for seven years. Then I one day found the book and read it and decided that that was really my belief.”

He walked into All Saints Church in Sunrise and told the pastor at that time, Father Anthony Mulderry, that he wanted to become a Catholic. Father Mulderry also suggested he read “Life in Christ,” to which Father Musselman replied, “I read that.”

So he went through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and began feeling again the call to ministry. “I thought, what can I do in the Catholic Church?” When a friend told him about the permanent deaconate, “I said, well maybe that’s for me.’”

He was ordained a deacon in 1994 and served at All Saints for many years. In 2005, his wife died.

“I really had no call to the priesthood that I could see,” Father Musselman recalled, until a priest friend, Father Juan Torres, asked him about it while on their way back from a baseball game.

“No, no, absolutely not. I don’t even want to hear it,” was Father Musselman’s reply. “It was about a year later that I realized that God was definitely calling me.”

“I am so happy he is able to find something to fill what the death of our mother left behind,” said his daughter Karina Musselman, 30. “I am looking forward to seeing what he does and I hope he can give people what they are looking for.”

His other daughter, Kelly Musselman, 28, said her tears began falling during the laying on of hands, the moment when the bishop calls down the Holy Spirit and a man actually becomes a priest.

“I was so happy watching him finally achieve what he has been working toward for so long,” she said.

PHOTO: by Marline Quaroni / Florida Catholic

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