The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is formally announcing the cause of canonization for the Rev. Stanley Rother, an Okarche priest murdered in Guatemala more than 25 years ago, and the first for an Oklahoma native.
According to the archdiocese, a canonization committee will be commissioned following an Oct. 5 mass at Okarche's Holy Trinity Church, open to the public.
A candidate must go through the canonization process to be publicly proclaimed a saint, said Eusebius J. Beltran, archbishop of the archdiocese.
"A saint is a saint, but whether we on earth know it for sure, we depend on the church to canonize them," Beltran said.
Rother was on a death list, but chose to remain with his people at Santiago Atitlán in Guatemala, which was in the throes of a 36-year civil war between the right-wing government and left-wing guerillas.
"At first signs of danger, the shepherd can't run and leave the sheep (to) fend for themselves," Rother wrote in a letter on Nov. 16, 1980. Three unknown gunmen assassinated the 46-year-old priest in the rectory on July 28, 1981.
Rother's name was one of 78 candidates presented for sainthood to Pope John Paul II during a Guatemalan trip in 1996. All on the list, which included 71 laypeople and seven priests, were nominated as martyrs.
"For a martyr, you do not have to have a miracle " just because they gave their life for the faith is sufficient," said Rev. Marvin Leven, who visited Rother in Guatemala. "But there have been miracles." "Rob Collins