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How about a summer pilgrimage?

Blessed Stanley Rother Feast Day July 28

July 8, 2018
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

With the Fourth of July behind us we have come to the unofficial halfway point of summer. Summer plans are unfolding. Our archdiocese is planning some special observances this month to honor Blessed Stanley Rother.

Looking at the weeks ahead, I would like to draw attention to ways we can prepare to observe the upcoming liturgical feast of Blessed Stanley on Saturday, July 28. This will be the first time since his beatification this past September that the Church will officially observe this celebration.

It was on July 28, 1981, that Father Stanley Rother, “Padre Aplas,” was martyred in his rectory in Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala where he had served as a member of the Oklahoma mission team since 1968. Appropriately, this is the date the Vatican has assigned as his feast day to honor him in the liturgy. The anniversary of a martyr’s death is the date the Church commonly celebrates his or her heavenly birthday.

Originally, permission for the liturgical observance of this “optional memorial” was granted exclusively to the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Since then, the bishops of the dioceses of Tulsa, Little Rock and Santiago Atitlan have petitioned and have been granted permission for the observance of this memorial in those dioceses as well. Already, we see devotion to Blessed Stanley extending well beyond our own local church.

Here in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, I have given permission for all churches of the archdiocese to celebrate the weekend Masses on Saturday, July 28, and Sunday, July 29, using the officially approved Mass texts for Blessed Stanley Rother.

It is one of the special prerogatives of the saints and blesseds that they be honored in the Church’s public prayer. These holy men and women are given to us for our veneration and imitation so that through their example and intercession we might find assistance in responding to our own call to holiness.

Some may choose to travel on pilgrimage to Guatemala and join in the colorful celebration at the Church of Saint James where Blessed Stanley lived and died. One need not travel all the way to Guatemala to make a pilgrimage in his honor.

On Saturday, July 28, many will undoubtedly attend the evening Mass honoring Blessed Stanley in his home parish of Holy Trinity in Okarche. There will be special festivities surrounding that local celebration.

I encourage everyone to plan a personal pilgrimage with family, friends or fellow parishioners to sites associated with Blessed Stanley this month. In addition to Holy Trinity, you might wish to visit his original burial place in the parish cemetery in Okarche. I strongly encourage visits to his current place of rest in the Resurrection Cemetery Chapel next to the Catholic Pastoral Center where he will lie in repose until his shrine is completed a few years from now.

You also will want to visit the Heritage Gallery museum at the Catholic Pastoral Center filled with artifacts and information about the life of Blessed Stanley. You can venerate his relics at the Saint Francis de Sales Chapel at the pastoral center as well.

As I remarked at the unforgettably moving beatification ceremony, though we rejoice in this official recognition of the first U.S-born martyr and parish priest to be beatified, we have not yet come to the end of this journey. We continue to pray for his canonization and for the day when we can honor him as Saint Stanley Rother. It will take a miracle!

To pave the way for his eventual canonization, we must pray with confidence for his heavenly intercession. I encourage one and all to seek his intercession and ask heavenly favors from Our Lord through the intercession of Blessed Stanley.

Pray with faith and persevere in prayer! It only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. God desires to bless us through the intercession of the saints and blesseds.

As you put the finishing touches on your summer plans, don’t forget to include a pilgrimage to honor Blessed Stanley Rother.