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Bl. Stanley Rother

Bl. Stanley Rother by Brenda Nippert

Artist Narrative:

After serving in his local diocese for five years, Fr. Rother joined five priests, three religious sisters, and three laypersons to staff a Guatemalan mission in Santiago Atitlán serving the Tz’utujil people.

By 1975, Fr. Rother was alone at his parish in Santiago Atitlán, the others having returned home for various reasons. He served the Tz’utujil people for 13 years and won their hearts and souls. His heavy pastoral duties included as many as five Masses in four different locations on a given Sunday and as many as 1,000 baptisms a year.

Guatemala’s civil war reached the highlands and Lake Atitlán by 1980. Government troops camped on the parish farm and Fr. Rother witnessed the assassination of a number of his parishioners, including the parish deacon.

Warned of imminent danger, Fr. Rother returned to the United States for three months early in 1981, to visit with his family and friends. Against the advice of his family and the local bishop, Fr. Rother returned to Atitlán to be with his people.

On the evening of July 28, three masked men entered the rectory and shot Fr. Rother to death. His beloved parishioners mourned him repeatedly crying, “They have killed our priest.”

"The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger."
Bl. Stanley Francis Rother

His feast day is July 28.

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An Oklahoma farm boy, Stanley Francis Rother (ROW-THER) was born March 27, 1935, in Okarche, Oklahoma. Ordained a priest for what was then the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, he served in the diocese’s mission in Guatemala for 13 years. Seeking justice in the midst of a protracted civil war, Father Rother fought courageously for the well-being of his people in combating a culture that was excessively hostile to the Catholic Church.

The oldest of four children born to Franz and Gertrude Rother, Father Rother grew up in Okarche and attended Holy Trinity Catholic Church and School.