Three men set to be ordained as priests began as altar servers

May 23, 2023

Deacons Matthew Krusleski, Zachary Muldrow and J Serrato are set to be ordained to the priesthood on June 3 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston. (Photo by James Ramos)

HOUSTON — Of the three young men about to be ordained as priests in June, two went to public schools all their lives, and one attended Catholic schools. But all three began considering the priesthood during their childhood as altar servers.

“After I received my First Communion, I was invited to be an altar server. I distinctly remember thinking, ‘If I have to go to Mass, I might as well do something,’” said Deacon Zachary Muldrow. “It certainly wasn’t the most pious response, but God works with what we can give Him.”

He and his two fellow transitional deacons said they most likely would not have thought of priesthood if they had not spent years serving at the altar as children.
Deacon J Serrato said, “I was about nine years old when I was ‘voluntold’ to become an altar server” by his parents. “After I felt confident assisting the priest at Mass, I began to enjoy my role.”

Serrato said he served in a small mission church belonging to the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption in Michoacan, Mexico. His family moved to the United States when he was still a boy, but religion remained first at their home, he said.

“My mother was our first pastor. Home was the micro-ecclesia for us. It was where she taught me how to pray, the importance of religion and Christian values,” Serrato said.

Deacon Matthew Krusleski said, “When I was an altar server as a kid, I went with a group of servers to the seminary for an ‘Altar Server Appreciation Day’ run by the local Serra Clubs.”

He added, “I really fell in love with the place, especially the chapel. The Serra Club gave me a T-shirt that said, ‘Yes, you can combat evil; No, you don’t get to wear a cape.’”

Deacon Krusleski said, “I also noticed the good work my pastor did, including the way he helped everyone to feel welcome in the church and his work behind the scenes, visiting the hospitals.”

Deacon Muldrow said another sign from God came when “I was wandering around the school library and happened upon a copy of Dante’s Inferno and John Henry Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua.”

“I had never heard of either author, but I was drawn to them for some reason,” he said. “Each in their own way spoke of the need to know and love God with our entire being. Reading those two works began the intellectual side of my spiritual life.”

Their church assignments as transitional deacons had Deacon Muldrow at St. Thomas More assisting at the parish and visiting the school; Deacon Serrato was assigned to St. Mary of the Miraculous Medal in Texas City, working with pastor Father Clint Ressler; and Deacon Krusleski served at St. Frances Cabrini in southeast Houston assisting at Masses, helping with funerals and Baptisms and faith formation for high school students.

Deacon Muldrow said, “Mostly, I assisted at various Liturgies and helped train the altar servers, but I also met with the RCIA candidates, cleaned the church, had fun at parish parties and prayed with parishioners. There is never a dull moment in parish life.”

In looking forward to ordination, Deacon Serrato said, “The priesthood is an amazing gift from Christ. There is much gratitude and joy within me. Certainly, what I have and feel within me is not just for my own sake, but for the sake of others.”

Deacon Krusleski shared, “I felt called to this life of heroic virtue, not necessarily receiving recognition for my work for God, but still being the presence of God to the people whom I would meet.”

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo is set to preside over the Mass of Ordination to the Priesthood on June 3., which is expected to be livestreamed from the Co-Cathedral on the Archdiocesan website at starting at 10 a.m.