Home Diocesan News No. Canton St. Paul parishioner strives to help college students strengthen faith
No. Canton St. Paul parishioner strives to help college students strengthen faith Print E-mail
Written by Marly Kosinski, Special to the Exponent   
Friday, 25 August 2017 13:35

NORTH CANTON – Amy Roshak did not go to The Ohio State University to become a lay missionary, but the calling found her when she needed it most.

Roshak, 21, a 2016 graduate of Ohio State with a degree in biochemistry, said she was having a hard time her freshman year figuring out where she fit in and what kind of life she wanted to lead. She attended a retreat in October of that year and started a conversation with her small group leader who was involved in the OSU chapter of St. Paul’s Outreach, an initiative aimed at building faith-filled communities on college campuses.

“At the time, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to proceed to live out my faith,” Roshak said.

She started going to events for St. Paul’s Outreach and living in “Households,” which are led by full-time St. Paul’s Outreach missionaries. In the households, students are immersed in a Catholic way of life, including prayer, communal meals, chores and evangelistic outreach to their peers on campus, according to the St. Paul’s Outreach website.

“I experienced a new depth to my faith that I had not known before. I continued studying biochemistry, but it was St. Paul’s Outreach that sparked a passion,” Roshak said.

St. Paul’s Outreach was founded in 1985 in Minnesota, in response to studies that showed only 10 percent of Catholic millennials attend Sunday Mass and 67 percent of Catholics will walk away from the Church by the time they finish college. According to its website, the organization focuses on two key ideas: A mission grounded in personal relationships lived out in Catholic faith-filled communities, and a comprehensive evangelistic process of helping students mature in their Catholic faith.

“These were real people surrendering their lives every day to Jesus and who were not afraid to say they love the Lord,” Roshak said.

After being accepted into the St. Paul’s Outreach program, she got more involved on campus and after graduating in May 2016, she was given her first missionary assignment at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. She is part of an eight-member missionary team there.

“It’s all about bringing the Catholic faith alive on campus and forming disciples,” Roshak said.

The missionaries live on campus and have to raise their own salaries through fund-raisers during the summer. Roshak told the Exponent she was in Texas, North Carolina and Columbus at various events this summer. She said she also has to pay her own travel expenses.

Roshak said moving to Kansas from North Canton and her parish of St. Paul here was a lot harder than she imagined, and she experienced a lot of new things.

“The first semester was pretty tough. I had to relearn who I was. But it turned out to be one of the best years of my life,” she said.

Usually, the missionaries make a two-year commitment at their assigned campus, she said, but she is permitted to stay at Benedictine College longer if she chooses.

“It just depends where I am needed and where the Lord leads me,” Roshak said.

She said her favorite part of St. Paul’s Outreach is how “real” it is.

“I am living life, but with the Lord. It’s been adventurous and I love how SPO embraces that sense of adventure,” she said.

She said the biggest challenge is working with the students because they are “real people” with “very real problems.” However, she thinks her age is an advantage and helps the students relate better to her.

Roshak returned to Benedictine College in mid-August and will attend week-long training at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota the last week of this month.

She is the daughter of Tim and Mary Roshak of North Canton and is one of 10 children, including: Kate, 31, of Memphis; Kevin, 30, of Houston; Kyle, 27, of Indianapolis; Matt, 27, of North Canton; Mark, 24, of Cincinnati; Amy; and Annie, 16, John, 14, Angela, 13, and Luke, 11, all at home.

A graduate of Hoover High School, she attended Little Flower Parish in Canton until eighth grade and has been a member of St. Paul Parish here since then. Though her parish and St. Paul’s Outreach bear the same name, the two are not connected, Roshak said. She is the first North Canton St. Paul parishioner to become a St. Paul’s Outreach missionary.

“My parents were happy I was doing something faith-based. Although they were nervous about me moving to Kansas, they know I love what I am doing,” Roshak said.

She said she definitely would recommend St. Paul’s Outreach to others. For those still in high school, she advised them to find a college with a St. Paul’s Outreach chapter and to get involved in it. For those who already have graduated, she suggested becoming a missionary, like her.


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