September 17, 2017
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
When I returned for my second year at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., everyone was talking about the death of Father Stanley Rother, an Oklahoma priest who had been killed at his mission parish in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. He was a “Mount” alumnus. It was big news; in all of the newspapers. It captured my attention and fired my imagination. From that time on I have always been eager to learn all that I could about the life of this heroic parish priest.
So, in 2010, as soon I accepted my new appointment to become the next Archbishop of Oklahoma City (even before it had been announced), I drove to Okarche, Okla., incognito to visit Father Rother’s gravesite and his boyhood parish. I was struck with the solemn realization that it now was my responsibility to carry forward the cause for Father Rother’s beatification and canonization, and to make his story of generous pastoral charity and courageous sacrifice known to the world.
Following the example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Father Rother had poured his whole heart and being into serving his parishioners. During his years of priestly ministry he was being transformed into a living icon of the Good Shepherd by the spirit of the living God dwelling within him. He gave his all; as Christ gave his all.
God has blessed the Church in Oklahoma with this opportunity to share our good shepherd and native son with the whole world and to hold up his example of holiness for generations to come.
On Sept. 23, we will celebrate the life of Venerable Servant of God Stanley Francis Rother at his Beatification Mass in downtown Oklahoma City. The ceremony will be only the second beatification in the United States and the first beatification of a U.S.-born priest and martyr. This once-in-a-lifetime event should not be missed!
Please join me, Cardinal Amato, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful from across the United States and Guatemala as we honor an ordinary man who was called to do extraordinary things.
We are all called to be saints. We praise and thank God for raising up this heroic witness and exemplary model of priestly holiness for the whole Church. Through his beatification, we gain a powerful intercessor in Blessed Stanley Rother. May he continue to pray for us as we seek to follow the path where the brave Shepherd has gone before us.
Sincerely yours in Christ
Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley
Archbishop of Oklahoma City