Oklahoma City: Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine
About Father Stanley Rother:
Father Rother was a priest in the Diocese of Oklahoma City, U.S.A. His call to the ministry was not without obstacles (he struggled with Latin, among other things) but he eventually graduated from Mount Saint Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was ordained a priest on May 25, 1963. Father Rother served as an associate pastor for five years in Oklahoma. Heeding the call of Pope John XXIII, he then sought and received permission to join the staff at the diocese’s mission in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala.
At this time in history a civil war raged between the militarist government forces and guerrillas. The Catholic Church insisted on catechizing and educating the people, which made it a target of the military dictatorship. During this conflict, thousands of Catholics were killed. Eventually the violence spread from the cities to the highlands, including Santiago Atitlan. Catechists began to disappear, people slept in the church for protection and death lists began to circulate in the towns.
Eventually, Father Rother’s name appeared on the death list after a parishioner from an Oklahoma parish sent a complaint about Father Rother to the Guatemalan embassy, saying he was advocating for the overthrow of the government in his preaching by supporting his local residents. For his safety and that of his associate, Father Rother returned home to Oklahoma, but not for long. He was determined to give his life completely to his people, stating that “the shepherd cannot run.” Returning to Santiago Atitlan, he continued the work of the mission.
He had not been back long when, on July 28, 1981, three men entered the rectory in the early hours of the morning and executed him. He did not cry for help because he did not want to endanger the lives of anyone else in the church. No one was ever charged in the murder.
He became the first U.S.-born martyr, and was proclaimed Blessed in Oklahoma City on September 24, 2017 before a crowd of over 14,000, including his relatives as well as representatives of Santiago Atitlan. We look forward to the next step, when he becomes a saint. We celebrate his Feast Day on July 28, the day of his martyrdom.
The burial site of Saint Stanley Rother:
Blessed Stanley Rother’s remains were buried here in Oklahoma City in Resurrection Cemetery, with one exception: His heart, quite literally, was in Guatemala after his martyrdom, and is enshrined at the mission parish in Santiago Atitlan.
You can see the plaque in his honor in the photo to the left, quoting James 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” .
The Shrine of Blessed Stanley Rother:
In late 2022 construction began for The Shrine of Blessed Stanley Rother including a 2,000-seat shrine church, pilgrim center, museum and campus in his honor, to be located in south Oklahoma City. The Shrine Church will be designed in the Spanish mission style, mirroring Blessed Stanley’s church in Santiago, Atitlán. It is scheduled for completion in February 2023.
Architectural renderings courtesy Franck & Lohsen, Architects and Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. You can see a video of the groundbreaking here.
About Tepayac Hill at the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine:
The Knights of Columbus and the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine have joined in the building of a replica of Tepayac Hill in Mexico City, where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Saint Juan Diego on December 9, 1531.
The shrine’s Tepeyac Hill was dedicated on December 11, 2022 The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, dedicated Oklahoma’s re-creation of Tepeyac Hill on December 11, 2022 at the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine, 700 SE 89. The shrine is still under construction and won’t be opened to the public until its much-anticipated dedication in February 2023. However, people like Manuel Ochoa, 40, and many others gathered there on Sunday for the dedication of statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego installed atop Tepeyac Hill and the hill itself. will feature statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe and San Juan Diego. This hill will be a place for all to venerate Our Lady, San Juan Diego and Blessed Stanley Rother, and to ask for intersessions for deepened faith, conversion of heart, the unborn and the Americas.
“Just as St. Juan Diego found peace in the tender heart of Our Lady of Guadalupe, so too did the poor and marginalized encounter the love of God in the pastoral charity of Blessed Stanley Rother. theTepeyac Hill project is a worthy endeavor, and it is fitting that Blessed Stanley Rother be memorialized at his shrine alongside Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego.” said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston. He went on to say “Our Lady entrusted to St. Juan Diego her request to the Bishop of Mexico to have a chapel built at Tepeyac. The obedient response of Mary’s humble servant began the most significant chapter in the story of the evangelization of the Americas. The Tepeyac Hill at the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine will be a place of encounter and witness to the steadfast love of God and maternal concern of Our Lady for all her children. Like St. Juan Diego, Blessed Stanley responded to God’s call to place himself under Mary’s maternal care in service to the Gospel. May all who visit and support the Tepeyac Hill project experience her motherly care.”
Click here for the official website of the Rother Guild (great information).
Contact the Shrine:
Mailing Address: Jason Spoolstra, Director of Pilgrimage, Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, PO Box 32180,Oklahoma City, OK 73123-0380
Tel: +1 (405) 438-0315
Physical Address: 700 SE 89th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73149
For more information about the Shrine to Stanley Rother in Oklahoma City click here.