Meet the Chaplain: Fr. James Misko – Austin Chapter
Father James Misko gained some valuable insights into how to be a good pastor from his seven years working as a manager in the restaurant industry. In both worlds, he says, the bottom line is serving people. That experience has been invaluable as Fr. Misko, 46, a priest of the Diocese of Austin, Texas, now pastors St. Louis King of France Church in Austin, a parish with more than 4,000 families and 80 staff members. Father Misko’s business background also serves him well in his role as chaplain of Legatus’ Austin Chapter. He spoke with staff writer Brian Fraga.
How did you get into the restaurant business?
While I was going to college, I began working for a restaurant in Austin, the Macaroni Grill. I was just a waiter, and then they asked me if I wanted to become a manager. I was already thinking about becoming a priest at the time, but I said, “Well, this could be fun. I could work here for a couple of years, learn a little bit about business and then go to seminary.” I became an assistant manager. I went to San Antonio, Little Rock, Ark., and back to Austin where I became a general manager.
The whole time you were thinking of the priesthood?
I knew the whole time I wanted to be a priest. I had some success in the corporate world, and I enjoyed it. It was something that gave me life, but I knew it was something that wouldn’t give me as much life as being a priest. So when I was 30, I decided to go to seminary. I was ordained in 2007 as a priest for the Diocese of Austin.
When did you first realize that you may have had a priestly vocation?
Probably my sophomore year in high school. I got really involved in the youth ministry program in my parish. I was also fortunate enough to have some priests in my parish who were just regular guys. They enjoyed sports. They enjoyed cooking steaks on the grill. They enjoyed talking to parishioners. For me, it was a blessing to have those two guys because they made it seem like the priesthood would be a wonderful life.
How has your background in business helped you as a priest?
When you’re in the restaurant business, it’s really about hospitality and it’s about service. When I think about my own priesthood, what do I do here every day? It’s about hospitality and service. We are here to serve people, whether we’re teaching school or we’re getting people ready for Baptism or we’re going to the hospital to anoint people. We are here to serve them.
How did you get linked up with Legatus?
I’ve known a number of the members of the Austin Chapter. They had invited me to come to their events over the last three or four years. About six months ago, Bishop Joe Vazquez called me and asked if I would consider being the chaplain, and I accepted the call.
Legatus is a great organization. With God, all professions become vocations, and that gives meaning to the work that people do. If God is not present in work, then it ultimately will not feed their souls. But when God is involved, and they’re able to bring God to their daily lives as professionals, it will feed them for the rest of their lives, and their work will be joyful. They will be able to help others.
What do you enjoy doing in your down time?
I try to ride my bike three or four times a week. Austin is a great cycling town. I also enjoy playing golf. Since I worked in the restaurant business, I enjoy cooking. I also enjoy singing. Our parish has a really good music program. We actually sing Compline every Sunday evening. It’s all Gregorian chant, the beautiful music from the monastic tradition of our Church.
BRIAN FRAGA is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.