~from Greenville (SC) Times-Tribune.
One of the Catholic clergy’s newest members, Michael Cassabon of Simpsonville, said he looks forward to serving joyfully, following the example of his parents, Michael and Mary Cassabon, as well as others such as Mother Teresa, who have given their lives in service to others.
Cassabon, who was ordained July 27 in Columbia and celebrated his first mass July 29 at his home parish, St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Simpsonville, said he first felt the call to the priesthood during confession while he was a senior at St. Joseph’s High School.
“It was in that sacrament that I really experienced God, not as a concept but as someone who was in love with me and had a plan for me,” he said.
After studying political science at Furman for two years, Cassabon transferred to the Pontifical College Josephinum to study philosophy. He taught religion and led a campus ministry at Bishop England High School in Charleston before continuing his studies in Rome at the suggestion of the Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston, the Most Rev. Robert Baker.
Cassabon lives at the Pontifical North American College, the national American seminary in Rome, which was established in 1855 and is considered an extra-territorial part of Vatican City. He attends classes at the Pontifical Gregorian University, a Jesuit University founded in 1551 by St. Ignatius of Loyola. He received a degree in theology in 2006, and will complete another graduate degree in canon law in 2009. All of his classes -- except Greek -- have been taught in Italian.
“My Italian is centered around theology, law and food. I couldn’t get a car repaired in Italy, but I could tell you about the Trinity,” he said.
Living in Rome during the time of the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of a new pontiff was an unforgettable experience, Cassabon said.
“John Paul II was a tremendous example,” he said. “I met him several times, and was even able to introduce him to my mother, grandmother and two aunts.”
Cassabon spent this summer as an assistant pastor at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, working at a tribunal church court. The court is involved with marriage annulment cases, dispute resolution, and advising the bishop on decisions concerning ownership of property and relationships with Rome and parish churches.