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.
|Fr. Devin Michael Roza|
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
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.
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
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.
|Fr Devin Roza, LC with his family at the North American College in Rome, Italy.|
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
“Well, that doesn’t happen every day,” I
thought to myself, wondering if this were for real. “Who
“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.
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.
point I could no longer doubt that God was calling
me to be a priest. God did wait long to
show me where.
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.
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
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.
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.
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".