More than 20,000 gather for Beatification in OKC

Posted at 3:30 PM, Sep 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-23 16:30:09-04

OKLAHOMA CITY -- More than 20,000 people gathered in downtown Oklahoma City for the Beatification of Oklahoma Priest Stanley Rother. 

Father Rother, originally from Okarche, was beatified Saturday morning. He is the first recognized U.S. martyr and first U.S.-born priest to be beatified. 

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City said, "Beatification is a declaration by Pope Francis that Father Rother lived a holy life and is a good example to follow. The ceremony declared Father Rother lives in heaven and intercedes for the faithful. Beatification is the final step before sainthood."

The Mass was performed by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome; Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop in Oklahoma City; and Most Rev. Eusebius J. Beltran, Archbishop Emeritus of Oklahoma City. 

A tapestry for Blessed Rother was unveiled Saturday. It shows the Oklahoma-native standing in front of his parish mission in Guatemala holding a copy of the New Testament that he translated into the native Mayan language. 

“His martyrdom, if it fills us with sadness, also gives us the joy of admiring the kindness, generosity and courage of a great man of faith. The 13 years spent as a missionary in Guatemala will always be remembered as the glorious epic of a martyr of Christ, an authentic lighted torch of hope for the Church and for the world.”

Blessed Rother was born in a farmhouse in Okarche in 1935. He attended seminaries in Texas and Maryland. He was ordained in 1963. He served five years in the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa and eventually volunteered to serve in Guatemala, Micatokla in 1968.

There, he helped natives with farming and opened a school and radio station. His work led to the first publication of the Gospels of the New Testament in Tz'utujil, the native language of the people he served. 

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