|Birth: ||Mar. 27, 1935|
|Death: ||Jul. 28, 1981, Guatemala|
Ordained May 25, 1963
Francis Stanley was born the son of Franz and Gertrude Smith Rother. He was reared on a farm near Okarche as a member of Holy Trinity Parish. He attended Holy Trinity School.
When he told his dad after high school that he wanted to be a priest his dad said, "Why didn't you take Latin instead of working so hard as a Future Farmer of America?" But he and Gertrude were glad that Stanley wanted to be a priest, and their daughter, too, now Sister Marita, wanted to become a Sister, though she and Stanley had not discussed their vocations with each other. "Religion was so much a part of our home and our lives that we didn't need to talk about it," Sister Marita said. God was central to our lives."
As a seminarian young Stanley was such a craftsman that in short order he was sacristan, groundskeeper, bookbinder, plumber, and gardener at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio. He was strong. He could do just about anything. He was an asset to the seminary. But he didn't have enough time for his studies, and he needed time. So after five and a half years he was told it would be better for him not to continue his studies for the priesthood.
That was a blow.
But Stanley and his father and Father Edmund Von Elm, the pastor at Okarche, went to see Bishop Victor Reed.
"Do you want to be a priest, Stanley?" Bishop Reed asked.
"Yes, but it's all over for me, isn't it?" Stanley said.
"No, it isn't," the bishop said. "It's not my smart priests that are my best priests, it's my good priests. We'll send you to another seminary."
Bishop Reed kept his word. He arranged for Stanley to go to Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and when it was time for ordination, the rector, Monsignor George D. Mulcahy, wrote to Bishop Reed on February 14, 1963: "Mr. Rother has made excellent progress at this seminary and should be a very valuable parish priest." Bishop Reed ordained him on May 25, 1963.
The first five years of his priesthood were spent at Saint William's, Durant; Saint Francis Xavier, Tulsa; Holy Family Cathedral, Tulsa; and Corpus Christi, Oklahoma City. While he was at Corpus Christi, Father Rother heard that a priest was needed at the Oklahoma mission with the Tzutuhil Indians in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. He immediately volunteered, and Bishop Reed chose him to go. That was in 1968.
Father Rother had always gravitated toward the poor, the Mexicans in San Antonio, the blacks at Corpus Christi, and now the Indians in Guatemala. He set to work to learn Spanish and then to learn the Tzutuhil language, an unwritten, language until Father Ramon Carlin had set about putting it into written form. Father Rother went to live with a native family for a while to get a better grasp of practical conversation. An Indian offered to tutor him.
Father Rother worked and mastered the difficult Tzutuhil language so that he could be in close touch with his people. After Father Carlin's death he continued on with the translation of the gospels into that language and then the Mass prayers. He worked with the people to show them how to read and write. He supported the radio station located on the mission property which transmitted daily lessons in language and mathematics.
"Father Rother grew like I've never seen anyone grow in the priesthood," Jude Pansini, who worked with him many years in Guatemala, said of him. He went from being an ordinary person like the rest of us to someone very special. Most of all, he knew the law of Christ," Pansini said. "He was a transformed wheat farmer. He really understood the theology of the sacramental system better than just about anyone I know."
Within the last year of his life, Father Rother saw the radio station smashed and the director killed. His catechists and parishioners disappeared and were found dead after having been beaten and tortured. Father Rother knew all this when he returned to Guatemala in May 1981. It didn't matter. He stayed with his people, supporting them in all their needs. He stayed until he was murdered.
Father Rother was shot to death late on the night of July 28, 1981 in the rectory at his church in Santiago, Atitlan Guatemala.
Fr. Rother's body was flown back to Oklahoma City and buried in his home town of Okarche. At the request of his Guatemalan parishioners, however, his heart and blood was interred beneath the floor of the parish church in Santiago Atitlán.
A memorial Mass was celebrated at Okarche Holy Trinity Church on Sunday, August 2, 1981.
Let us pray for the Canonization of
Father Stanley Rother
source of all holiness,
in every generation you raise up
men and women heroic in love and service.
You have blessed your Church
with the life of Stanley Rother,
priest, missionary, and martyr.
Through his prayer, his preaching,
his presence, and his pastoral love,
you revealed Your love and Your presence
with us as Shepherd.
If it be your will,
may he be proclaimed
by the universal church
as martyr and saint,
living now in your presence
and interceding for us all.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
According to Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, named by the Vatican as the Postular for this canonization case, three prerequisites must be met for a person to be named a martyr.
1) The person who committed the assassination must have had the motive of killing the victim only because of the victim's faith.
2) The person who was killed must have accepted to die for the faith.
3) The death of the person must have been violent.
In a July 4 meeting with Dr. Ambrosi, several members of the commission made arguments that the circumstances surrounding Father Rother's death would satisfy all three requirements.
Note: Cause of Death: Murdered by Death squad
Holy Trinity Cemetery
Created by: J Vogel
Record added: May 10, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 36931549
Added: Mar. 28, 2013
Rest In Peace, Beloved Father Stan!|
Added: Aug. 3, 2011
For the Record - After attempting to find the stone of Father Rother in this cemetery (Okarche) I found that he is NOT in the Okarche Cemetery. He is in the Holy Trinity Cemetery also in Okarche OK - Canadian County. (See that cemetery listing for pictur...(Read more)|
Added: Aug. 27, 2010
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