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Blessed Stanley Rother is an American priest and martyr from Oklahoma.The Heroic Story of an Oklahoma Farmer: Blessed Stanley Rother is a modern day martyr-priest and an inspiration! The Church celebrates the memorial of Blessed Stanley Rother on July 28. Born March 27, 1935, Stanley Rother grew up on an Okarche, Oklahoma farm. He discerned the priesthood while in high school, and was ordained in 1963.

Sent to Guatemala 

After serving as an associate pastor for five years, the Oklahoma diocese granted Father Rother permission to serve at the their mission in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, where he ministered to the Tz’utujil Tribe, Native Americans and one of the 21 Mayan ethnic groups.

The tribe lived in extreme poverty. Father Rother visited and cared for them in their one-room huts. He ate with them, and helped them with medical needs. He also assisted with their farming needs, including building an irrigation system. During his time in Guatemala, a civil war broke out between the militaristic government and guerrillas. The Catholic Church continued evangelizing and catechizing citizens in the middle of the conflict.

Thousands of Catholics were killed, and Father Rother was eventually placed on a death list. He then returned to Oklahoma for his own safety. However, Father Rother explained that "the shepherd cannot run," and returned to Guatemala, emphasizing his commitment to the people.

Shot to Death 

A few months after his return, three men shot Father Rother in his church rectory on July 28, 1981, at approximately one o’clock in the morning. His canonization cause began in 2007. The Vatican officially recognized him as a martyr in 2015, and Pope Francis recognized him as a martyr for the faith in 2016. He was then beatified in Oklahoma City on September 23, 2017.

He is the first official United States martyr, and the first priest from the United States to be beatified. A 20-minute video explains in greater depth Blessed Stanley Rother’s story. It even includes interviews from his siblings, one of whom is a religious sister. Please listen to his story here.

Blessed Stanley Rother, please pray for us!


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