Transitional Deacon prepares for Ordination

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

Bishop Frank J. Dewane will ordain Transitional Deacon Shawn Roser to the priesthood at 11 a.m., July 14, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. Here Deacon Roser shares his journey to the Priesthood.

“From my earliest years, I have had the desire to serve others,” Roser explained. “In time, this grew into a yearning to share the love of Christ with them as well.  The first time that I thought about the priesthood was in second grade, when I received my First Holy Communion. I remember thinking that it would be incredible to be able to offer Mass and bring Jesus’ presence to others.  Time passed and the desire for priesthood mostly faded away, but the desire to serve others didn’t.”

Transitional Deacon Shawn Roser will be ordained to the priesthood on July 14 at Epiphany Cathedral.

Born in Lima, Ohio, he was raised Catholic and lived in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and then Fort Wayne, Ind., before moving to the Naples area at the start of high school. Although a 2002 graduate of St. John Neumann Catholic High School, Ave Maria is his adopted hometown, as his family moved there in 2009.

After high school, Roser attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, where he studied aerospace engineering and applied meteorology, with the intention of pursuing a career as a U.S. Air Force officer and astronaut. “It was then, during my college years and my involvement with Catholic campus ministry, that I experienced an awakening and renewing of my faith.  When Pope John Paul II died, I remember being inspired to reconsider the priesthood.”

Now 35, Roser credits a number of priests and religious for aiding in his discernment for a vocation to the priesthood. Specifically, Father Tim Daly, then Chaplain of the Embry-Riddle Catholic Student Union, provided guidance and prayers through the years. It is for this reason that Father Daly will be vesting Roser at the ordination.

“After some time, in prayer and discernment, I obtained my discharge from the U.S. Air Force Reserves, and pursued the priestly vocation, first with the Glenmary Home Missioners, and finally with the Diocese of Venice,” he explained. “Although I spent time dating and discerning the vocation to marriage before entering seminary, again and again, I felt the gentle but persistent call of the Lord to the priesthood.  In surrendering my will to Christ, I experienced great peace and clarity about my future path.”

While discerning with the Glanmary Home Missioners, Roser worked along with the poor and unchurched in Applachia and the rural South. “Later, I felt the Lord calling me back to Southwest Florida, where I delved back into studies and work. Eventually, the desire to serve God as a priest returned. I came to see that diocesan priests, in their work with those entrusted to them at the parish level, truly serve at the “front lines” of the struggle for holiness.  I too, wished to take part in this spiritual warfare and tend to Christ’s flock. Thus, I applied to become a seminarian for the Diocese. “

Roser took initial theology classes at Ave Maria University, and then at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. As a Diocesan seminarian, he earned a B.A. in Philosophy from St. John Vianney College Seminary, Miami, before being sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome. There he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology Degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and recently completed the one-year Spirituality Program at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. In very early July, he returned to the Diocese.

When asked why he decided to discern a vocation to the priesthood, Roser explained: “For me, the priesthood is the laying down of one’s life in service to others, so that by following in the footsteps of Jesus, we may together journey to our eternal home of heaven. To be responsible for the salvation of souls, is an incredibly daunting task, but it is also one that fills me with joy and enthusiasm.  The more uncertain and confused the world becomes, the more clearly, I see that it is the Catholic Church and its teachings alone that stands solidly on the foundation given to it by Christ, through the Apostles. There is great comfort in that. I wish to do my small part in the great work of the New Evangelization.”

Family is very important to Roser; so he felt blessed to have had the support of his parents (Stephen and Mary Beth) and most of his family and friends. “I believe that my mother always thought that I’d become a priest.  Those who initially were uncertain or opposed to the call have really come around. Interestingly, when I first announced my decision to enter seminary, often it seemed that I received more support from non-Catholics than Catholics.  We must do more to promote a culture of vocations – it starts at home with the family!”

He admitted that the few weeks he has left to prepare for ordination are a bit surreal, knowing that his studies are finally done and nothing stands in his way to reach his goal. “What a wonderful privilege! Waiting to hear of my official priestly assignment and being assigned to the care of souls can seem a bit nerve-wracking, but I’m anxiously looking forward to parish ministry, celebrating the sacraments and serving parishioners!”

Once ordained, Roser said his greatest desire is to be a faithful parish priest who is a shepherd of souls and brings others to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Ordained a Transitional Deacon at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter in the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican on Sept. 28, 2017, one of his first acts as a deacon was to serve as deacon at his mother’s funeral and the officiating at her interment. “It was a moving experience seeing the power of grace at work through the Church’s liturgy and sacramentals.”

While a seminarian for the Diocese, Roser had several pastoral assignments including: St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral; Epiphany Cathedral, Venice; St. Leo the Great Parish, Bonita Springs; Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Bradenton; and Incarnation Parish, Sarasota.

The ordination to the priesthood is considered one of the pivotal moments in the life of a Diocese. While an ordination is the final step to priesthood, it is not the conclusion of priestly formation, it is just the beginning.

“This is one of the most beautiful and often unseen Sacraments in the Church,” Bishop Dewane explained. “It is a public response to the Call to Holiness, which comes with great responsibility and accountability.”

During ordination to the priesthood the oridinand freely presents himself to serve God, the Church and the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice and his successors. They will also make a renewed commitment to celibacy and promise obedience. The reward for that choice is to have their life filled with the message of God.

Ordination details

What: Ordination to the Priesthood of Shawn Roser

When: Saturday, July 14, 11 a.m.

Where: Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice

By Whom: Presiding Prelate Bishop Frank J. Dewane

Other facts about Transitional Deacon Shawn Roser

Age: 35

Born: Lima, Ohio

Parents: Stephen and Mary Beth (deceased in 2017)

Interesting facts: 4th Degree Knight of Columbus; holds a private pilot’s license; First Lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol; previously served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

Fun: Flying, bicycling, running, hiking, camping, canoeing/kayaking, visiting national/state parks and historic sites, reading, woodworking, cooking, etc.

Relax: Going to the beach, fishing, swimming, reading, etc.