The feast for Okarche’s native son the Blessed Father Stanley Rother will bring people to Okarche for a dinner and Mass this Friday, July 28, and other events are planned in Oklahoma City.
Rother, born and raised in Okarche, became a Catholic priest and was murdered while serving in Guatemala in 1981.
The feast is a very important one in the life of the Catholic Church and at Holy Trinity, said Holy Trinity Catholic Church Deacon Max Schwarz.
“It’s a very important part of the year because he was a native son,” Schwarz said.
At 6 p.m. Friday, a Mass at Holy Trinity will take place followed by a dinner in the Parish Hall.
The Blessed Rother Shrine, 700 SE 89 in Oklahoma City, will host a family picnic 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 29.
In 2019, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt proclaimed July 28 as Blessed Stanley Rother Day in Oklahoma.
The day commemorates the Oklahoma priest’s Feast Day, which is celebrated every year by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the Diocese of Tulsa and the Diocese of Little Rock in remembrance of the anniversary of his martyrdom in Guatemala.
“We are grateful for Gov. Stitt’s recognition of this heroic and humble Oklahoma priest who gave his life in service to his people,” Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley said.
“Blessed Stanley is a model for us all, and a man who stayed true to his Oklahoma roots with hard work and dedication to his faith.”
Blessed Stanley was born in 1935 in Okarche. He was ordained a priest on May 25, 1963. He served as an associate pastor in Oklahoma for five years before volunteering to serve at the Oklahoma mission in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala.
While at the mission, he learned Spanish and the Tz’utujil language and helped translate the New Testament into the native dialect.
He assisted in the opening of a school, a hospital and a radio station, and used his farming expertise from Oklahoma to help impoverished farmers harvest different crops, build an irrigation system and create a co-op.
During his time in Guatemala, a civil war raged. The Catholic Church was caught in the middle due to its insistence on catechizing and educating the indigenous people.
During this conflict, thousands were killed. Eventually, Blessed Stanley’s name appeared on a death list.
He chose to stay with his people, and on the early morning of July 28, 1981, three masked gunmen shot and killed him in the rectory. His death shocked the Catholic world. No one was ever held responsible.
In 2016, Pope Francis officially recognized him as a martyr for the faith, and on Sept. 23, 2017, his beatification was held in downtown Oklahoma City.
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has constructed a 2,000-seat shrine, museum and campus in his honor. The shrine is located in south Oklahoma City at Interstate 35 and S. 89.
To learn more about Blessed Stanley Rother or for updates on the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine, go online to archokc.org/stanleyrother.