Five things to know about the Rev. Stanley Rother
The late Rev. Stanley Rother is the first U.S.-born male and U.S. priest named a martyr by the Roman Catholic Church. His beatification, at a ceremony planned for Saturday, Sept. 23 in downtown Oklahoma City, will place him one step closer to canonization.
Here are five things you should know about him:
1. Small town boy. He was born to a devout German Catholic family of farmers in the small town of Okarche.
2. Surprising decision. He surprised his family with his decision to become a priest instead of following in the footsteps of his father and becoming a farmer.
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3. Seminary struggles. He struggled with Latin at his first seminary and was asked to leave. Then-Oklahoma Bishop Victor Reed obtained a private tutor to tutor him in Latin and sent him to another seminary. Language would not trouble him for long. He mastered the native dialect of the Tzutujil language of his parishioners in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, so much so that he helped translate the New Testament into Tzutujil.
4. Serving in Guatemala. Five years after his ordination to the priesthood, he volunteered to serve as part of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City's Guatemalan mission team, eventually becoming parish priest at Santiago Atitlan, Guatemalan. He served there for 13 years, helping to open a hospital, helping to teach the parishioners farming techniques and working to establish a school to combat illiteracy.
5. Heart condition. He was killed by unknown assailants on July 28, 1981, in his rectory at Santiago Atitlan. The people of his beloved parish wished to have him buried in Guatemala. A compromise was reached between his parishioners and his family so that his body was brought back to Oklahoma for burial -- but his heart was buried in Guatemala.