ALTAMONTE SPRINGS | Overwhelmed with emotion and joy, Amy Roza walked down the long aisle at Annunciation Parish Feb. 11. Surrounded by friends from five different religious orders and numerous parishes, organizations and Christian backgrounds, Roza’s consecration brought together a unique, magnificent celebration in Christ. She described it, “as the Church fully alive”.
Before the momentous day, she noted her excitement “for the Church to be represented in its fullness at the consecration”. She hoped it would be “just be a small glimmer” of the mystery all are called to enter. Many traveled from across Florida and beyond to support Roza and share in the celebration of her gift of self to the Church, both that day and on the eve of her consecration.
The night prior, Roza joined friends, parishioners, and religious in a holy hour of Eucharistic Adoration at her parish, Most Precious Blood, Oviedo. Songs praising the Lord and Evening Prayer were offered for Roza’s life as a Consecrated Virgin. Vocations Director and friend, Father Joshua Swallows shared his excitement at the work God was going to do in her life, through her loving surrender. He then blessed her lamp, a simple ceramic vessel painted in hues of blue that remind Roza of Mary—a beautiful sign of the temple virgins who “went out to meet the bridegroom” in Matt 25:1.
According to Catechism of the Catholic Church 922, “From apostolic times Christian virgins and widows, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church’s approval to live in the respective status of virginity or perpetual chastity ‘for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.” This Rite was restored for women in today’s world after Vatican II in 1970. Roza is the second woman to be consecrated in the Diocese of Orlando.
As Bishop John Noonan called her forth, she approached the altar with her lamp, accompanied by her attendants. On her left, mentor and consecrated virgin, Jennifer Settle and, on her right, Megan Stevens – fellow counselor and friend.
The bishop then asked: Are you resolved to persevere to the end of your days in the holy state of virginity and in the service of God and His Church? Are you so resolved to follow Christ in the spirit of the Gospel that your whole life may be a faithful witness to God’s love and a convincing sign of the kingdom of heaven? Are you resolved to accept solemn consecration as a bride of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God? She answered, “I am”.
Then Roza prostrated herself and everyone kneeled, praying the Litany of the Saints. Earlier she confided, “It is this very intimate and beautiful thing to be prostrate and give myself mind, body and soul to Jesus the Lord.” She offered it humbly as “a gift for the Church”.
Taking place on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes, Bishop Noonan noted, “Your consecration is call to a greater gift, the spreading of the Kingdom of God, and a gift to the world, the Spirit of Christ.”
He emphasized her call to be like Mary, the first virgin to fulfill the call. “The life you seek to follow has its home in heaven,” he told her. “God Himself is the source. It is He, infinitely pure and holy who gives the grace of virginity.” He noted those to whom He gives this grace are seen “as images of the holy, eternal love of God Himself.”
As the bishop placed the veil on her head and the ring on her finger – insignia of consecration – Christy Horn, Roza’s “spiritual mother” looked on with tears in her eyes. She later said she felt privileged to accompany Roza, whom she met eight years prior through her son, Father Benjamin Lehnertz, Roza’s spiritual director. A year earlier Roza asked Christy and her husband, Randy, to walk her down the aisle as her spiritual parents. “It’s been a privilege beyond my earthly imagination,” Christy said. “To have been a part of this journey and grow in my own grace. She inspires me in my own faith.” As the mother of four sons, she found it a particular joy “to walk with a daughter on this journey to the Lord.”
Seeking to be that “sign of hope” Bishop Noonan described, Roza looks forward to living out her ministry through her profession as a mental health counselor and through a life of intercessory prayer and familial relationships offered for Christ and His Church.
A self-proclaimed introvert, she said this will require “intentionality”, but says it is what is required to live her “outward vocation”. It is a duty she embraces joyfully while looking forward to “living with an open-handed posture within my vocation and my life” and “growing more in love with my vocation and my Bridegroom… being able to witness to the love of Christ in our Diocese.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic Staff, February 16, 2022