Venice | In a public response to a “call to holiness” Shawn Roser, 35, was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Frank J. Dewane during a Mass July 14 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.
The poignant and emotional rite places Father Roser in a new role as he is raised to the order of the presbyterate where he will now celebrate the Mass, confer the Sacraments and teach the Gospel.
Bishop Dewane congratulated the ordinand for answering the call to holiness and advancing in formation through prayer, discernment, guidance and direction, which helped him grow closer to the Lord. Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the ordinand is called to reflect and magnify Christ and bring others closer to Christ.
“You have chosen a particular life and continue to hear that call,” Bishop Dewane stated. “The Diocese is grateful for your having listened to that call and letting that love for Christ touch you so deeply that it brings you here today. In a particular way, today you have become an instrument of the Lord; configured to Christ; joined to the priesthood of the Bishops. Let the Word of the Lord be who you become. It is that love of Christ that brought you here; let that continue to grow within you and take that strength going forward.”
Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a priest is transformed and marked indelibly as an instrument through which others receive the Sacraments, Bishop Dewane said. “Take God in your heart as you carry out the mission of sanctifying the faithful by uniting them to Christ’s sacrifice.”
When the rite of ordination began, Father Roser was called forth to the presence of the Bishop by Father Eric Scanlan, Diocese Director of Vocations, and upon hearing his name called out, he answered, “Present.” After the homily, he knelt before the Bishop to promise respect and obedience to him and his successors. Then he lay prostrate before the altar for the Litany of Supplication/Litany of Saints.
The whole assembly joined in the prayer which invoked God’s grace and the intercession of the saints in heaven.
After this solemn act of prayer, the Sacrament of Ordination was conferred when Father Roser knelt before Bishop Dewane, who in silent prayer, imposed his hands on the head the ordinand. In the sharing of the priesthood, each priest present than laid their hands on the head of the newly ordained Father Roser.
He then knelt once again before the Bishop, who then recited the consecratory Prayer of Ordination, which, together with the Bishop’s imposition of hands, is the essential rite of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
After the prayer, the newly ordained was vested in the stole and chasuble, vestments that are worn when celebrating the Eucharist and symbolize the responsibility and authority in service to Christ. Father Roser was vested by Father Tim Daly, a priest of the Diocese of Orlando, who was a chaplain at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and served as a spiritual adviser when Father Roser was a student there many years ago.
The palms of the new priest were then anointed with the sacred chrism by Bishop Dewane, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make their ministry fruitful. Next, the Bishop presented Father Roser with the chalice and paten, which all priests are called to present to God in the Eucharistic sacrifice, saying, “Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross.”
The Rite of Ordination ended with the Bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to the newly ordained priest, welcoming him into the Diocesan Presbyterate or priesthood. The priests present then followed the Bishop’s example. Father Roser then joined Bishop Dewane at the altar to the applause and joy of all present.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist then followed. Father Roser joined all the priests for the first time in concelebrating the Eucharist with Bishop Dewane, reciting together the words of consecration. For the first time, he offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, acting in the person of Christ. From this sacrifice his whole priestly ministry will draw its strength.
Present for the ordination were his father and grandmother, as well as other relatives and friends. Not far from his mind was his mother, Mary Beth, who passed away less than a year ago. In addition to other family and friends, also present were more than 40 priests, men and women religious, permanent deacons, the Knights of Columbus, the Order of Malta and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.
Born in Lima, Ohio, Father Roser was raised Catholic and lived in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and then Fort Wayne, Indiana, 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.
As a student at Embry-Riddle he had hopes of becoming a pilot and astronaut, but instead heard a call which brought him on a path to the priesthood. He took early theology classes at Ave Maria University, and then at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. As a Diocesan seminarian, he earned a degree from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami before being sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome. There he earned a degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and recently completed the one-year Spirituality Program at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.
With an easy smile in all humility, Father Roser said after his ordination that the journey to this point was long, steady and focused, culminating with his becoming a true servant of the Lord. “I feel a deep and profound peace. This is a very special day that I feel deep in the fabric of my being.”
As a seminarian, he held 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. Each Parish sent representatives in support of the new priest. He celebrated his first Mass at Ave Maria Parish. It was announced that his first assignment will be as Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton.
The ordination to the priesthood is considered one of the most critical events in the life of the Diocese as it ensures the continuation of the Church and the availability of the Sacraments to the faithful. Since Bishop Dewane became Bishop of Venice, 23 men have been ordained to the priesthood.
A reception followed in the Cathedral Parish hall where Father Roser formally greeted the public and imparted his priestly blessing upon them.