Fr. Philip Massetti, O.S.J.
Photographs can be deceiving! I was planning to use my ordination photo taken 31 years ago in which I sported a mustache and a lot of black hair. I thought it would be more effective in attracting young men to join our Congregation. But then I thought—“What the heck, I don’t feel 59 years old, and Pope John Paul became pope when he was 58 and everyone loved him; and by the way, I do have more hair than some of my fellow Oblates (please refer to their photos). So, there it is.
My story is simple and blessed. In 1932 the Oblates of St. Joseph arrived in Madera. Father Vincent Mazzucco married my parents in 1936. He baptized me in 1948, and 12 years later while attending St. Joachim’s Grammar School, I knew then that when I grew up I wanted to be like him and the Oblate priests and brother who staffed our parish. I didn’t know the difference between religious orders and the diocesan priesthood; I didn’t know that these men, especially Father Albertelli had a great devotion to St. Joseph and St. Joseph Marello; I didn’t know that Fr. John Grossi respected and obeyed the Pope faithfully; I didn’t know that Father Al Marzani had a great love for hard work and serving the interests of Jesus in a humble and simple way; but what I did know was that people were happy when these men were around, and I liked that. I felt an attraction to their way of life, and I was willing to accept the challenge to do whatever these priests and brothers asked me to do to help them with their ministry, even though I didn’t see it as a challenge at that time.
I really don’t remember the details of how Fr. Lupe Sanchez found out about my desire to be an Oblate of St. Joseph, but by the time I graduated, he had invited me to enter the High School Seminary in Santa Cruz, California. My devoted and loving parents were very supportive of my decision, and my nine sisters and brothers were very happy to see me go, although I am not quite sure why they were so happy. Throughout my years of formation, they would always encourage me to stick with it. In fact, one of my married brothers (I won’t mention his name because I have come to realize that some in my family get a little disturbed if I single them out by name while I am preaching, especially in my home parish) would always tell me the grass is not any greener on the other side.
In September 2007 by the grace of God, the love of my spiritual and physical family, and the constant support of friends who have been associated with the Oblates for a long time, I will have stuck with it for 40 wonderful years. I am very happy and blessed to say that each year keeps getting better. Father Siro and Father James and Brother Vince and my other superiors wanted me to do various things for the Congregation throughout these 40 years, so I have moved around a lot responding to different needs. I have been involved in Parish Ministry in the Fresno and Sacramento dioceses, Seminary Formation in Santa Cruz and Loomis, California, Vocation Ministry, Leadership Ministry, and Missionary work in Mexico, India, and recently in Nigeria.
To do whatever I was asked to do has been a challenge for me, one that I know I could have accepted in a better way; but one that has blessed me with so much more than I have given. I am very grateful to all of the Oblates of St. Joseph who have inspired me to follow this path, and hope that I can also be used by God to inspire young people “to serve Him in imitation of St. Joseph.”