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right|150px|Father Stanley Rother Stanley Francis Rother (27 March 1935 - 28 July 1981) was a Catholic priest and missionary to Guatemala. He was murdered by a death squad, believed to be made up of right-wing extremists and elements of the Guatemalan Army, on 28 July 1981.

Ordination and early career[edit]

Stanley Francis Rother attended the seminary at Mount St. Mary's University and graduated in 1963. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Oklahoma City - Tulsa (now the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City) on 25 May 1963 by Bishop Victor Reed. Rother served as an associate pastor in various parishes around Oklahoma before being assigned to the mission of Santiago Atitlán in the rural highlands of southwest Guatemala, in 1968.[1]

Mission work in Guatemala[edit]

Rother served in Santiago Atitlán for 13 years. During that time, in addition to his pastoral duties, he translated the New Testament into the Tzutuhil language and began the regular celebration of the liturgy in that same tongue.[1] Rother also founded a small hospital to serve the community, which was located in Panabaj. The "Hospitalito"[2] and the whole neighborhood of Panabaj were buried in the mudslides that followed Hurricane Stan in October 2005. The "Hospitalito" is in the process of being re-opened.

Death threat and murder[edit]

In early 1981 Rother was warned that his name was on a death list and that he should leave Guatemala.[3] [4] He returned to Oklahoma in January 1981,[3] but asked for permission to return. Rother went back to Santiago Atitlán in April.[4] On the morning of July 28, gunmen broke into the rectory of his church and shot him twice in the head after a brief struggle.[4] The killers forced a gardner to lead them to the bedroom of the "red-bearded Oklahoma-born missionary".[5] He was one of 10 priests murdered in Guatemala that year.

Burial and veneration[edit]

Memorial plaque in Santiago Atitlán.

Rother was flown back to Oklahoma City and was buried in his home town of Okarche, Oklahoma. At the request of Tzutuhil parishioners, his heart was behind the church altar.[1]

Since his death, Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran and other Catholics in Oklahoma and Guatemala consider Rother to be a martyr for the faith.[6] The archdiocese has petitioned the Catholic Church to designate Rother as "fit for veneration" (a step on the path to sainthood). [6] [7] If canonized, Rother would be the first slain priest from Oklahoma to become a saint.[7]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c "Slain Okarche priest left his heart in parish". NewsOK. April 11, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  2. ^ "Volunteer in Guatemala". 2007–2010. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  3. ^ a b "AROUND THE WORLD; 3 Seized in Guatemala In Slaying of U.S. Priest". NY Times. August 5, 1981. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  4. ^ a b c "Guatemala: Requiem for a Missionary". Time (magazine). August 10, 1981. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  5. ^ "Guatemala: Guatemala: Case Not Closed". Time (magazine). August 24, 1981. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  6. ^ a b The Year of Father Rother Archdiocese of Oklahoma City Retrieved: 2010-05-12.
  7. ^ a b "Sainthood proposed for slain priest". Chicago Tribune. September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 

External links[edit]