By Janee Law
When Rev. Michael Bissex was 17 years old, his goal of becoming a classical musician changed when he discovered his passion to enter the priesthood.
Now 27, Bissex was ordained as a priest on June 24 and has now joined the parish of St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Huntington to serve as associate pastor.
When asked why he joined the priesthood, Bissex said it’s complicated.
“It’s kind of like asking why you’re in love with someone,” he said. “It’s the love of transcendence, beauty, truth and goodness, and the belief all of that is real. It’s the desire to bring that to other people and bring other people into that. Just like love, there’s a profound aspect to it that is difficult to explain but it’s real as anyone who’s been in love will tell you it’s real.”
A Huntington Station native, Bissex was a parishioner of the Parish of Saint Matthew in Dix Hills and was home-schooled during his elementary and high school years.
Bissex was raised in a Catholic family of seven children and was an altar boy starting at 7 years old.
Growing up, he studied classical violin and piano and joined the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and the Long Island Youth Orchestra. He said he traveled with the Long Island Youth Orchestra each summer on concert tours.
It wasn’t until later in high school that Bissex decided to join the priesthood, and entered the Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston, Queens, where he majored in philosophy as a freshman and sophomore.
He then was accepted into the Basselin Scholarship Program at the Catholic University of America in Washington, still as a seminarian for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
As he continued to pursue this path, he said his passion to become a priest grew stronger and there was no stopping him.
Bissex completed his undergraduate in 2012 and stayed another year to complete a licentiate in philosophy in 2013.
From there, Bissex was sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome to begin his theological studies for four years and was ordained a deacon at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome in September 2016.
As a newly ordained priest, Bissex hopes to bring a generational perspective to a community and try to help people with that in any way that he can.
His first day with the St. Patrick’s was June 28, the same day Rev. Stephen Donnelly moved to Maria Regina Roman Catholic Church in Seaford. Bissex will be staying with the parish for five years, as it’s standard procedure for priests to serve a few years with a parish before moving on to another.
Bissex said his role includes assisting in several services, including morning masses, visiting the sick, helping out at the school, perform weddings, funerals and baptisms.
He added, “You can prepare as much as you want in school, but much like other professions, you learn on the job, you learn by doing it and you learn by doing what you signed up for. And that’s pretty incredible.”