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A Response
U. S. A. | RESOURCES | TESTIMONIES
Fr. Devin Michael Roza

Fr. Devin Michael Roza
Fr. Devin Michael Roza
With great friends, the perfect girlfriend, and an almost full-ride scholarship why would anyone leave it all to become a priest? That is exactly what I did, and it was the best decision I ever made.


Foundations

I was born on November 29, 1977, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Ralph and Jo Roza. I was blessed to grow up in a loving and supportive family, with two brothers, one older and one younger, and a younger sister. Our parents always gave us an example of hard work, honesty, and respect for others. They also made the sacrifices necessary to send us to Catholic grade schools and high school. Sunday Mass (usually with doughnuts afterwards!) was a normal part of our life.

Throughout grade school, my brothers, sister, and I walked to school and back. The walk took us about 30 minutes each way, and for whatever reason, my older brother would often leave me behind a little bit. Even though I was only 11 or 12 years old, I began to take advantage of those times to think about what life was all about and about what gives true happiness. What did it matter to me if I was rich or powerful, or poor and unsuccessful in life, if life was so short and eternity forever? A cemetery near our house often made me think of the people there who had died and of what little use had their riches been. At the end of their lives, every one of them had to stand before God and receive an eternal reward or punishment, and what mattered most at that moment was not the things they had, but their relationship with God and others (or lack thereof). These and other similar reflections influenced me deeply, and I began to pray more and read more about my faith. Over the course of those months, I began to develop a deep friendship with Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.


An Invitation

One evening, when I was still 12 years old, I was in my room praying a little bit and felt very clearly something in me that I had never experienced. I cannot describe it any other way than as a call, an invitation. I perceived that God was inviting me to give my life totally to him, to become a priest. That night, I promised God that if that is what he wanted that I would give my life to him.

Since that moment, I have always felt in me the calling to consecrate my life to God as a priest. I have experienced it as something that comes not from me—I often fought as hard as I could to ignore it or reject it—but from God.


High School, Curling, and Life Teen

In my last few years before high school, I did quite well with my studies. My teachers invited me to skip ahead a year in mathematics, something that allowed me to study through Calculus III while in high school. I also scored the highest entrance exam score of all the applicants that year for Creighton Prep High School, which allowed me to get a good scholarship to help pay for a solid Jesuit high school education. The example and friendship of Jesuit priests at Creighton Prep, especially that of Fr Jim Sinnerud, is something that marked me deeply and that I cherish to this day.

Throughout my high school years, I played competitively the Olympic sport of curling, together with the rest of my family. My dad was our team coach. My older brother, Chad, was the “skip,” or team captain. My younger brother, Andy, was also on the team, together with a friend of our family, Patrick Jordan. We played in several Junior Curling National Championships. In my last couple of years of high school our team was good enough to receive funding from the U.S. Olympic Committee to compete in national and international tournaments, and we even won an international tournament sponsored by the Olympic Committee where our team represented the U.S.A.

Competing at such a high level was a great experience: it helped forge the virtues of hard work, perseverance, team work, and friendship. The fact that everyone in our family participated—even my mom and my sister Miriam, who were not on the team, but were always with us and supporting us—brought us together as a family in a very special way. I also participated in the Catholic youth group Life Teen all throughout high school. Life Teen gave me a great group of friends that I stay in contact with to this day, who lived the Catholic faith in a vibrant and fulfilling way. I also was deeply influenced by the example of
Fr. Devin Michael Roza
Fr Devin Roza, LC with his family at the North American College in Rome, Italy.
the priestly fidelity and zeal of Fr Tony Tresnak and Fr Joe Hanefeldt who directed the youth group. I dated during most of my time in high school and very often wanted to get married and start a family later on in life, but I always felt that God was calling me to the priesthood. “Show me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it,” was my constant prayer. God did not wait too long to answer.


A Providential Encounter

One day in my last year of high school, I was heading out to Mass, and my mom asked me to pray for her. “Sure,” I replied, and drove away. After Mass was over, I stayed in the church and prayed for a while before the Blessed Sacrament. I got up to leave, and when I was at the door, I remembered that my mom had asked me to pray for her. I went back in and knelt down.

A minute later, a woman that I had never seen before came up to me. She was obviously very nervous, and she stammered, “Umm… excuse me. I don’t want you to think I’m crazy or anything, because I’ve never done this before. But I, umm… really think God wants you to go on a retreat this weekend.”

“Well, that doesn’t happen every day,” I thought to myself, wondering if this were for real. “Who with?”

“With the Legionaries of Christ,” she replied.

I was shocked. In fact, the day before I had just told a friend of mine I was considering either joining the diocesan seminary or the Legionaries of Christ. I had never met a Legionary before, but I had read about how they were a young, dynamic order, with a deep love for Christ and the Church, and I was interested. Needless to say, I went on the half-day retreat that weekend. I was very impressed by the Legionaries. “If I want to be a priest, I want to be a priest like them,” I thought to myself.


College Life and the Perfect Girl

A few months later, I headed off to Texas to begin my college studies at the University of Dallas. I had an almost full-ride scholarship after qualifying to be a National Merit Scholar.

In my first year at the University of Dallas everything worked out for me. I developed wonderful friendships, I really enjoyed my classes, and my grades were excellent. During my second semester, I began dating a girl who seemed perfect for me: she was very virtuous, intelligent, and beautiful, and we got along very well. Could she be the one I was to marry?

There was only one problem: deep down I still felt that God was calling me to be a priest!

That was not only issue. I felt that God had given me a heart meant to be 100% for him, that I was meant to give myself completely to God and to serving others, that only God’s infinite love could fill the heart he had given me.

While seeing more than ever the beauty of marriage and a family, at the same time I experienced the call to celibacy as precisely a call to love even more, to give myself even more, and to be loved even more.

At this point I could no longer doubt that God was calling me to be a priest. God did wait long to show me where.


The Call

In spite of my scholarship to the University of Dallas, I still needed to make a good deal of money that summer to help pay for my sophomore year. I was going to spend one semester in Europe with the university’s “Semester in Rome” program. I was working at a restaurant as a waiter, but I was not making enough. Luckily a friend of mine from Life Teen knew of a job opening at a computer company that sounded very attractive, and the pay was good. I interviewed and got the job.

Shortly after putting in my two week notice at the restaurant, I got a call from the Legionaries of Christ, inviting me to a retreat the weekend before I began my new job. That weekend was free, and I decided to go.

Towards the end of the retreat I made a visit to the chapel and knelt before our Lord in the Eucharist. During that visit, God gave me the light to perceive very clearly that I was free to choose. I could choose to get married or to become a Legionary priest, but that he was inviting me to follow him as a Legionary priest. I saw that if I chose to be a priest I would have to sacrifice much more than if I chose to get married, but that I would give many more fruits for Christ and for others.

When I saw this, I immediately chose to follow Christ as a Legionary priest. I had always prayed, “Lord, I will go wherever you want me to, just show me what you want of me.” God had showed me the path he had in store for me, and I put my life in his hands.

A Response

Towards the end of that summer I packed my bags and flew off to Cheshire, Connecticut, to begin my novitiate as a Legionary of Christ. Shortly after arriving to Cheshire a letter arrived in the mail from the University of Dallas: they had decided to increase my scholarship by $3000 per year. My financial problems had been resolved, but that did not matter anymore. God had something else in mind for me.

Everything I experienced at the seminary in Cheshire simply confirmed my calling: the charity, the enthusiasm, and the love for Christ and the Church that all the brothers and fathers radiated. On September 15, 1997, I received the cassock and began my life as a Legionary of Christ.

After many years of preparation for the priesthood I can only give thanks to God for his calling and the grace to follow it. In the Gospels, Christ promises that he will give us one hundred times whatever we give him. In my life he has fulfilled that promise and more. Even in difficult moments, which have not been lacking, he has always been present. Since leaving everything to follow him I have been deeply happy. The adventure is just beginning!

 

FR DEVIN MICHAEL ROZA was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on November 29, 1977. He studied at Creighton Preparatory High School, and did one year of liberal arts studies at the University of Dallas. In 1997, he entered the novitiate of the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire, Connecticut. He finished his liberal arts studies in Salamanca, Spain. He has undergraduate degrees in philosophy and theology, and a licentiate in philosophy from the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College. For four years he was a professor at the Legionaries’ college of humanities in Cheshire, Connecticut. He is currently studying for a licentiate in sacred scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.

Los testimonios vocacionales de los legionarios de Cristo que recibieron la ordenación sacerdotal en el año 2011 han sido publicados en el libro "Dios lo da todo".


PUBLICATION DATE: 2010-12-12


 
 


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