Chaplain brings economist’s understanding
Houston’s MONSIGNOR FRANK ROSSI has Italian roots and a passion for the faith . . .
Monsignor Frank Rossi
Monsignor Frank Rossi says his call to the priesthood was “a simmering sort of thing” that came to a boil after he entered the undergraduate seminary attached to Houston’s University of St. Thomas. By the time he graduated with an economics degree, he knew that — for him — “staying in the black” meant staying in the seminary and becoming a priest. Now vicar general of the Galveston-Houston archdiocese and pastor of St. Michael’s in west Houston, he says it’s an honor and joy to mingle with and minister to men and women of Legatus.
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
It was a simmering sort of thing. I was brought up in a strong Catholic family. I was very involved in youth ministry in high school. I wanted to help people and be true to my faith. In my senior year I felt I had to discern my calling in seminary. I committed to go for one year, and believed God would answer my questions. At the end of the first year, He said to stay one more year. By my third year in college seminary, I felt strongly that my call was to be a priest.
One thing that helped in my discernment was having an undergrad degree in economics. I realized that society without God is very selfish and will ultimately lead to our ruin. That concept of bringing God into the marketplace not only encouraged me to be a priest, but to become involved in Legatus.
How did you become acquainted with Legatus?
I spoke to the Houston Chapter on a few occasions, especially on medical and sexual morals. Houston has the largest medical complex in the U.S., so issues of medical morality are pretty prevalent for us here. I knew many of the members already, all wonderful Catholics committed to their faith. So when I became pastor at St. Michael’s in 2006, I was asked to become chaplain. The priest who’d been chaplain was transferred to a town some distance from Houston, and it became difficult for him to commute.
What impact has Legatus had in the Galveston-Houston archdiocese?
It brings a stronger Catholic identity to the secular business community and a stronger witness to parishes, where Legates are influential members. It’s a twofold blessing.
How would you like to see the chapter progress?
Legates always need to recognize the important role they play in the local church, as well as the community at large. Legates are in the “real world.” For them to be able to be a moral voice in business and political issues is needed.
How do you approach your role as chaplain?
Through my homilies and talks, I really strive to be a bridge to bring the message of the Church more clearly to the minds and hearts of members — that they be empowered to be “other Christs” in the community.
You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?
I love nature: hiking, camping, enjoying things outdoors. My favorite place to travel is Italy. I have a “root in the Boot.” My family’s originally from the Abruzzo region, but any place in Italy is home to me.
Do you have any advice for business leaders?
I’ve come to know that the Catholic faith requires integrity to be a whole person. We can’t have two lives: one for work and one for home and other aspects of our lives. Does my faith find a reflection in my home life, my work life, in my community life? When there’s disintegration, there’s dissolvement. For the faith to remain strong, it must remain strong in us.
MATTHEW RAREY is a Chicago-based freelance writer.