(Heart buried here)
Catholic Missionary priest and martyr, assassinated by right-wing death squad during the Guatemala civil war. A native of Okarche, Oklahoma, Fr. Rother was ordained in 1963 and, later was assigned in 1968 as a missionary to the historic (built in 1582) St. James the Apostle Church in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. He was successful there, serving 13 years among the highland Maya people, translating the New Testament, and performing Sacraments, in the local Tzutuhil language.
Unable to properly pronounce his name, his parishioners called their pastor "Padre A'Plas." During the civil war, indigenous refugees from the militias were provided sanctuary in the church. Fr. Rother learned his name was on a hit list. He visited to the U.S. in early 1981, but he insisted that he return to Guatemala because "the shepherd cannot run from his flock."
A few months later, masked killers broke into the rectory and shot the priest. Though Rother's body was to be returned to his Oklahoma home (where his body was originally buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery in Okarche before his cause for sainthood caused his body to be moved to Oklahoma City in 2017), his devoted parishioners wanted his blood and heart buried at the church, and Rother's family agreed.
Fr. Rother was one of several Catholic priests murdered during the civil war; he is considered a martyr by the people of the parish. The bishops of both the dioceses of Oklahoma City-Tulsa and Solala, Guatamala, are petitioning the Vatican for consideration of Fr. Rother for potential sainthood. Venerable Servant of God Rother was beautified (the step prior to sainthood) in 2017.
Sponsored by Ancestry