Oklahoma City: Tomb of Blessed Stanley Rother
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:
Saint Stanley Rother’s remains are currently buried here in Oklahoma, 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 rest of his body is entombed in a crypt in the chapel at Resurrection Cemetery in northwest Oklahoma City.
Visiting the tomb of Blessed Stanley Rother:
Address: Resurrection Cemetery, 7500 W Britton Rd, Oklahoma City, OK 73132
Click here for the website of Resurrection Cemetery in Oklahoma City.
The Shrine of Blessed Stanley Rother:
As of late 2021 construction plans have been made for a Shrine dedicated to Stanley Rother that will include 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.
Architectural renderings courtesy Franck & Lohsen, Architects and Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. You can see a video of the groundbreaking here.
For more information about the Shrine to Stanley Rother in Oklahoma City click here.
Click here for the official website of the Rother Guild (great information).