This is my first blog post for the National Catholic Register. It’s about Father Stanley Rother, martyr, a priest who refused to flee his post to save himself.
American Martyr Fr. Stanley Rother: “A
Shepherd Cannot Leave His Flock”
“The reality is that we are in danger.
This is one of the reasons I have for staying in the face of physical harm.
The shepherd cannot run away at the first sign of danger. Pray for us…”
—Father Stanley Rother, 18 months before his martyrdom
In Okarche Oklahoma, the sky goes on forever and the wind never stops blowing.
Father Stanley Rother lies in an unpretentious grave in a tiny church cemetery on a road that you’ll miss if you aren’t looking carefully. His grave, which is one of many with the name “Rother” on it, is marked by a simple black headstone. The only thing that sets it apart is the necklace of stones ringing its edges.
Father Rother began his life here, on this prairie, in this town. He was confirmed and baptized in Holy Trinity Catholic Church, which is the only Catholic Church in Okarche. He offered his first Mass as a priest here.
His life ended in an isolated village in Guatemala when he fell in a hail of bullets. Last week, the Congregation of the Causes of Saints recognized Father Rother as a martyr, which puts him on the long road to official recognition as a saint of the Church.
Stanley Rother was as Oklahoman as the red dirt he tilled on his family’s farm