Father Raymond Roh, OSB.Cam, hailed from the Cornhusker state of Nebraska. He was born to Joseph and Mary (Shimerka) Roh in the town of Abie on October 9, 1932, the youngest of 11 siblings. He enrolled in high school seminary for the Diocese of Lincoln in 10th grade, and later studied at a local seminary in Arkansas. Following seminary studies he was ordained a priest May 16, 1959, and for several years engaged in parish ministry. He pursued two masters’ programs, one in Religious Education from Creighton in his home state of Nebraska, and a second in School Administration from Catholic University in Washington, DC. Armed with these credentials he was soon assigned to the position of Superintendent of Schools in the Lincoln Diocese, a position that he held for several years.
But his restless spirit brought him to make several retreats at the Pecos Benedictine Abbey in New Mexico, and after a period of discernment, he entered the novitiate and became a Benedictine monk, making monastic profession in 1980. At the time of Fr Ray’s move to the abbey, Abbot David was beginning the School for Spiritual Direction and needed an administrator, and so Fr Ray fell into that position which he held for several years. The monastery also ran a retreat center which focused on retreats for those involved in the charismatic renewal. Prayer for healing, both from illness and inner healing, was a feature of these retreats, and Fr Ray became very adept at this prayer. Soon he was in demand to offer parish missions with a similar focus and his ministry took him all over the United States as well as abroad.
In 1987 the Pecos Abbey was asked to make a foundation in the Diocese of Monterey, and Fr Ray was missioned to begin this venture. In 1992 three more monks arrived and by 1999 the monastery became an independent priory. Fr Ray served as business manager, and continued to offer healing prayer and parish missions far and wide. He led a charismatic prayer group for years every Wednesday evening which always concluded with prayer for healing. For many years he served as Chaplain at Chapel Hill outside of Paso Robles. Fr Ray was also the director of oblates, and besides a local SLO chapter, he had groups in Stockton, Vacaville, Pacific Grove, Redondo Beach, Bakersfield and Hanford. For many years he served as spiritual director for diocesan priests in the Bakersfield area.
Late in 2012, he received word that the monastery would be closed the following year because of reduced numbers. He negotiated an agreement with the Camaldolese Benedictine Congregation to keep the monastery open under their auspices. After a three-year trial period, Fr Ray and the monastery were received into the Camaldolese Congregation at a ritual held at the hermitage in Big Sur on January 6, 2017. In the meantime he had received word from his doctors that his time was limited. In late January he began hospice at Aunt Carol’s Place in Pismo Beach. On February 7 he received Holy Viaticum, and died peacefully on the morning of February 8. Well done, good and faithful servant! Besides his monastic community he is survived by several nieces and nephews who reside both in Nebraska and California. A Vigil Service will be held at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, February 14, followed by Mass of the Resurrection on the 15th at 2:00 pm, both at Nativity of Our Lady Church in San Luis Obispo.