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‘God is always calling me back’

June 17, 2020

Editor’s note: This is an installment of an ongoing series featuring how Catholics of the Diocese of Ogdensburg are living out their faith. To suggest an individual to be featured in this series, please call the North Country Catholic at 315-393-2920 or email dfargo@rcdony.org.

By Darcy Fargo

LAKE CLEAR – For Allison Rozon, a parishioner of St. Bernard’s Parish in Saranac Lake, faith is a journey, an ongoing process of conversion.

“I keep learning this isn’t a once and done thing,” she said. “We can have these profound conversion experiences, but we still have to keep turning back to God every day. Did I have conversion experiences? Yes. But I’m always walking away, and God is always calling me back. Sometimes, I don’t listen immediately, and He has to talk even louder.”

Rozon group up in Fort Covington, and she said the Dominican priest and religious that served the community in her teenage years, along with her parish’s youth group, helped her develop deep faith in her youth.

“As a teenager, I was really faithful and enamored with my faith,” she said. “I participated in youth groups and retreats, and I loved sharing the beauty of our faith with others. It shaped a lot of who I was. Having that great Dominican community was awesome. I loved reading the Bible and developing my knowledge of the faith. I don’t want to call it childish faith, but it was definitely a youthful phase.”

When she went to college, Rozon said she gradually fell away from her strong faith.

“I started picking and choosing what parts I wanted in my life, which doesn’t work very well,” she said. “I started living a completely different life than the live I lived in high school, thinking maybe I had been missing something. I stopped going to church regularly. I still believed in God to an extent, but there were definitely times I questioned if God was real, and if He is, why are there so many rules and why is there so much pain in the world. I stepped away from it all.”

Then, after college, Rozon met her and married her husband, Leif.

“We were both sort of fallen away Catholics,” she said. “One Sunday morning, we just decided we should go to church. We sort of started going to church again and sharing a bit of our faith stories with one another. It wasn’t something we had talked about a lot before.”

Rozon said she believes her marriage, and its impact on her faith, was the answer to earlier prayers.

“Once at a youth conference, I was asked to pray for my future spouse,” Rozon said. “After that, I prayed for my future spouse a lot in high school. There’s power to prayer, and maybe that’s the reason we were meant to be together. When we started returning to church and talking about our faith, we were both at very broken parts of our stories. But we were helped by the graces of the sacrament of our marriage, by our return to the church and by being blessed to develop a community of friends in the faith.”

Rozon and her husband were then introduced to Natural Family Planning (NFP), which has also helped them grow in their marriage and faith.

“NFP and looking at how we wanted to approach having our children really changed us,” she said. “It changed our view on our faith and life in general. Before, we had always thought we’d have one or two kids and lots of things. We started to think about what was more important. Our marriage was a conversion, but if we were serious about planning a family and Natural Family Planning, we had to change even more. We couldn’t be so into ourselves. It’s been really challenging having a family, but it’s really changed me and made me more faithful and trusting.”

After the couple had their first child, Rachel, they struggled to have more children. After years of prayer and working with natural reproductive health doctors at the Gianna Center in Albany, Rozon again said the power of prayer at work.

“It took a lot of praying and a lot of surrender,” she said. “We were at the point where we wanted another baby, and God was saying, ‘not right now.’ In surrendering to God’s will, I found intercessory prayer to be helpful on a personal level. I prayed a lot to Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Gianna. I always ended my prayer with, ‘if this is your will, Lord.’”

The couple later did get pregnant with their second child, Luke. Shortly after his birth, more prayers were needed.

“He failed his first newborn screening,” Rozon said. “Then he kept failing it. He had a heart murmur, and the doctors thought he might have a heart lesion or part of his aorta not closing. It was the most terrifying thing that happened in our marriage, maybe either of our lives. We waited so long to have him, and then he was taken away to go to Burlington in an ambulance, with us driving behind. It was a situation when we totally knew we had no control over the situation. God showed us we don’t have control in our lives. Not in the sense that it’s anarchy, but we don’t have control. God has control. Our end goal is his heavenly home. I had to remember that as much as Luke was my child, he is also God’s child.”

The couple prayed the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet the entire ride to Burlington. They continued praying as doctors and interns began scanning baby Luke’s heart.

“They were all looking at his aortic valve,” she said. “It hadn’t closed, which had caused him to fail the newborn screenings. It usually closes shortly after birth. This was three days after. During the echocardiogram, the aortic valve closed. All the interns couldn’t believe they got to watch it. I had been praying for the intercession of the angels right when it happened. Our priest at the time noted, ‘how quickly God can change hearts.’ It was definitely true for us.”

While she noted the ordeal was extremely difficult on her and her family, Rozon said it was also a lesson in faith.

“I thought, ‘Wow, God! I’m not sure why you put me through all that, but I saw your power with my own eyes more than I had ever seen it before,’” she said. “It helped me in my journey to trust and surrender to God’s will in everyday life.

The Rozon’s have since welcomed a third child, Felicity, into their family. Rozon currently homeschools the children.

“I’m sharing my faith with my kids,” she said. “When I teach them religion, it’s not just ‘these are the Ten Commandments’ and ‘these are the Beatitudes.’ I hope I’m sharing on a personal level that this is Jesus, He’s our friend, He loves you and He helps you. I want my kids growing up with that faith and love.”

Rozon and her family have formed a faith community by participating in a monthly rosary gathering with other families at St. Agnes Church.

“It’s a very basic gathering,” she said. “We go around the room, say our intentions and pray the rosary together. Then we share a potluck meal. It’s morphed into a second family for us. We’re all praying together and witnessing to each other. We’re sharing our struggles through our intentions.”

Outside her homeschooling and efforts to keep her family connected to a community of faith, Rozon said she has little time for volunteering and ministry, but she recognizes that will change some day.

“I think that’s a beautiful part of our Catholic faith,” she said. “There are so many ways to share our faiths and talents, and those change throughout our lives. Some people are gifted speakers. Some are gifted authors. Some are able to volunteer locally and share their faith. Right now, I’m a mom. I share my faith with my kids, and try to spend kindness and build relationships with people in my circle.”

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