Should Blessed Stanley Rother have gone back to the mission in Guatemala knowing that his life was probably in danger? This question has been asked many times since his murder on July 28, 1981. His answer was simply, straightforward, and true: “My people need me.”
This question and answer lead to a consideration of the meaning of vocation, that is, a call from God to do something in his life in a very particular way. God never creates anyone without a very wonderful purpose.Father Rother’s vocation was to be a priest, someone for others. He understood that clearly.
When he went to Santiago Atitlan he forged ahead with the same single-minded purpose. A priest is everything he can be to his people. His life truly elaborated on that. With his hands he showed his love: building houses, recharging batteries, digging, hauling, burying the dead (some times finding them first, perhaps tortured then murdered), blessing babies and marriages, boiling water for the sick poor to help them get better. Father Rother had left the world of deodorants, lotions, gourmet cooking and soft skin. He was in the world of putrid smells, calluses, running sores, flea bites, casual gunshots, and overwhelming fear.
He was a priest in this world. His job was to give comfort and courage.
So he went back. But in a sense he never went back at all because he had never left those people. His heart was with them all the time. And when he died, they claimed that heart and buried it in the place that meant so much to him
Sister Martha Mary McGaw, CSJ