A Saint Among Us
Cause of Canonization for Father Stanley Francis Rother Will Officially Begin Oct. 5 With Mass and Commissioning of Committee at Holy Trinity Church in Okarche
By Ray Dyer
Editor of the Sooner Catholic
OKARCHE - Inside Okarche’s Holy Trinity Catholic Church, the same church where two days after his birth on March 27, 1935, Stanley Rother was baptized, Oklahoma Catholics will come together Oct. 5 incele- bration of the Holy Eucharist and to again pray for the Canonization of their beloved priest.On this night they will witness the formal beginning of the journey to sainthood as the Canonization Committee for the Cause of Sainthood for Revered Stanley Francis Rother is commissioned. Archbishop Beltran will commission the Canonization Committee. Deacon Norman Mejstrik, a parishioner at Saint Philip Neri Church in Midwest City, has been named to serve as coordinator for the committee. Carol Davito has been named to serve as assistant coordinator.
XX“It really is such an honor and a privilege in some small way to be connected with such a holy man as Father Rother, said Deacon Mejstrik. “Just learning about his life, his faith, the decisions he made and how he lived his life just has to profoundly influence me and influence all of us.”
Father Rother was shot to death late on the night of July 28, 1981 in the rectory at his church in Santiago, Atitlan Guatemala. The government of Guatemala was placing blame on the Catholic Church for unrest in the country. Many priests and religious lost their lives and thousands of civilians were kidnapped and killed during the years of statesponsored oppression. Even though Father Rother knew his life was in danger, he chose to remain with the people he had grown to love during the more than a dozen years he lived there.
Archbishop Beltran will head the Canonization Committee. He will be joined by Father Anthony B. Taylor, PhD who will serve as Episcopal Delegate; Father Edward J. Weisenburger, V.G., JCL who will serve as Promoter of Justice; Sister Kathryn Olsen, IHM, JCL and Anne Kirby, JCL who will serve as Notaries; Marcia Dubey, BS, will serve along with Kirby as Scribes; George Rigazzi, JCL, Cara Koenig, BA, and Loutitia Eason, JD will make up the Historical Commission; the Theological Commission will be comprised of Father Charles H. Schettler, JCD, STL; Right Reverend Lawrence Stasyszen, OSB, STD and Dr. Anne McGuire, PhD.
Because Father Rother was killed in Guatemala his Cause for Canonization normally should have been undertaken there. But because the Church there lacked the resources for such an effort, Archbishop Beltran requested a transfer of jurisdiction to the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. The Guatemala Conference of Bishops agreed to the Archbishop’s petition and the Congregation for the Cause of Saints gave this competence to the Archdiocese.
“This is a time of prayer that God will inspire His Church,” Archbishop Beltran said. While Father Rother has not been officially proclaimed a saint by the Church, Archbishop Beltran said he firmly believes “Father Rother died for the faith” and he considers him a martyr. “Thus we believe he is in heaven,” the archbishop said. “We hope and pray that the Church will someday officially proclaim that Father Rother is indeed a saint.”
According to Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, named by the Vatican as the Postular for this canonization case, three prerequisites must be met for a person to be named a martyr.
1) The person who committed the assassination must have had the motive of killing the victim only because of the victim’s faith.
2) The person who was killed must have accepted to die for the faith.
3) The death of the person must have been violent.
In a July 4 meeting with Dr. Ambrosi, several members of the commission made arguments that the circumstances surrounding Father Rother’s death would satisfy all three requirements.