On Tuesday, Aug 13, Oklahoma City’s archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese, The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, declared that the shrine to an Okarche priest will become available to the public on November 3.
The celebration of its opening will take place on the same day, at SW 89 and Interstate 35. These festivities will be open for all visitors and will transpire between three and five in the afternoon.
This shrine will serve as a memorial for Stanley Rother, a priest working with the Diocese of Oklahoma City. In the late 1960s, Stanley founded a parish in Santiago Atitlán, a municipality in Guatemala’s southwest highlands. He died at the hands of local right-wing extremists in 1981 and later became beatified, the first U.S. priest to receive the honor.
Coakley claims that the shrine’s groundbreaking will present a momentous occasion for the community, as well as for Oklahoma’s Church. He believes it will act as a destination for pilgrimage, attracting the faithful throughout the States.
A Grand Monument to Rother
The shrine’s construction cost $40 million. The edifice will contain a chapel and burial site of Blessed Stanley, facilities for devotions and other shrines, a building for educational purposes, and a church with 2,000 seats.
Upon its completion, this shrine will represent Oklahoma’s largest Catholic church. On its premises, there shall also be a museum dedicated to the life and martyrdom of Stanley Rother. A news release the archdiocese held also revealed that it will also accommodate the local Hispanic population. Parishes for these communities are becoming increasingly more overcrowded, and the shrine will be a welcome relief for them.
Stanley Francis Rother was one of a farmer family’s four children. Born in 1935, he decided to join the cloth upon finishing high school. During his studies, he also worked as a plumber, gardener, and bookbinder. He was ordained on May 25, 1963, and was sent to Guatemala five years later, at his own request.
While there, he learned both Spanish and language of the locals, called Tz’utujil in an effort to further connect with his congregation. On his parish’s property operated a radio station that transmitted language and math lessons daily. He also founded a hospital in Santiago Atitlán, which took on the name Hospitalito.