Everybody has a story, and Andrew and Rosina Belt are no different. Their story is one of bravery, perseverance, resiliency and faith.
Andrew and Rosina found themselves living a nightmare at a very young age. Both were born in Yugoslavia during WWII. At age six, Rosina was sent to a concentration camp with her mother and two younger brothers. Her father had been captured earlier and sent to Russia to work where he later died.
"My mother would pray with us every night in the concentration camp," said Rosina. "Others around us would laugh because they thought it was hopeless, but that did not stop my mother… we prayed every night."
After living in the concentration camp for three years, Rosina and her family managed to be smuggled out and eventually made it to the Hungarian border. Once in Hungary, her mother found work and saved until she had enough money to return to Germany to find family members.
The Catholic Church was instrumental in helping Rosina and her family leave Germany, and on Rosina's 14th birthday, Nov. 5, 1951, they received news that they would be able to come to America. A month later, she arrived at Ellis Island with her family on the Feast Day of St. Nicholas.
"I kept the faith because I just knew there was a God," said Rosina. "He was always the guiding hand who seemed to make things possible when they seemed impossible. When I think back about everything we've been through, I honestly don't know how we survived."
Her husband Andrew's story is similar. Andrew's mother died when he was five, and his father was drafted by the army leaving his grandmother to care for him and his older sister. In 1945 all three were sent to a concentration camp where their grandmother died 10 weeks later. At the time, Andrew was 10 years old and his sister was 14. The two remained in the concentration camp for nearly three years and were eventually reunited with their father in Austria. They arrived in America in 1950.
"We're grateful for what we've been given and what we have," said Andrew. "We've been blessed with a good life and I thank God for that."
Both Andrew and Rosina had family in Ohio where they settled after arriving in America. They met in Bellville and married in Dayton in 1956 where they eventually had three sons. They also have two grandchildren and two great grandchildren and still reside in Dayton.
Andrew's uncle was an usher at Holy Rosary Church and was friends with the then Vice President of Brinkman Tools, who was looking for a young man willing to work, so Andrew went to meet with him. Andrew started out sweeping floors and worked his way up the corporate ladder. By the time he retired, after 49½ years of service, he was the Vice President of the company.
Rosina explained that she and Andrew have persevered despite what they've experienced because of their faith and gratitude. One of the ways they "give thanks" is by donating to Mount St. Mary's Seminary & School of Theology.
"The priesthood is God's way of sending someone from Him," she said. "These young men are so strong and brave to defend God and the Church during these hard times and we want to support them."
Rosina shared that she and Andrew hope they can continue to help the Seminary form priests now and in the future to carry on God's work.
"God has plans for all of us, big plans," she said. "We just have to have faith, believe and pray."