This past Sunday, Pope Francis mentioned the recently beatified Blessed Stanley Rother during his weekly Angelus address at Saint Peter Square. Recognizing that the beatification had taken place in Oklahoma City the day before, Pope Francis said, “yesterday in Oklahoma City Blessed Stanley Rother was beatified, a missionary priest killed out of hatred for the faith due to his evangelizing work and interest in the human advancement of the poorest in Guatemala. May his heroic example help us to be courageous witnesses of the Gospel, working hard always in favor of the dignity of every human person.”
In just a few words, the Pope summarized the work of the Church’s newest recognized martyr.
Father Stanley Rother, born March 27, 1935, grew up in Okarche, Oklahoma, and was ordained a priest in 1963. Five years later, he received the call to serve in the Oklahoma mission in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. Through the years, Father Rother learned the local Tzutuhil dialect, served the people with devotion, and was deeply loved by the parishioners. Political unrest swept the country in the 1970s and in 1980 four priests were killed in Guatemala.
On the night of July 28, 1981, three men entered the rectory, tortured and shot Father Rother. Father Rother’s heart is buried in the church in Guatemala and his body is buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery in Okarche. On September 23rd, 2017, Cardinal Amato beatified him in a beautiful ceremony held in Oklahoma city before over 15,000 faithful.