Blessed Stanley Rother will be honored in Oklahoma City facility; groundbreaking this November.
“The groundbreaking for the shrine will be a significant moment in the life of the Church in Oklahoma and for the broader community,” said Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City. “The shrine is being built to honor Blessed Stanley Rother, an Oklahoma original and the first U.S.-born priest and martyr ever beatified. It will be a place of pilgrimage where the faithful will come from near and far to honor Blessed Stanley at his final resting place and to seek his intercession for their many needs. It will be a place of welcome, serving all people.”
Described as an “ordinary” priest, Stanley Rother was officially recognized in 2017 as the first martyr of the Catholic Church born in the United States. His beatification drew a crowd of 15,000 in Oklahoma City and now many will be celebrating his feast day on July 28 each year.
According to Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda, his biographer, “He was a farmer from Okarche, Oklahoma, who served the Church as a devoted priest both here and in the Oklahoma mission in Santiago Atitlán — where he literally farmed the Guatemalan fields side by side with his parishioners.”
His name was eventually put on a “death list” in Guatemala for his missionary activities, and he was gunned down by militants at the age of 46.
The shrine will include a 2,000-seat church, a chapel where Blessed Stanley will be buried, an education building, an event space and several areas designated for shrines and devotion. The site will be developed over time.
Along with the Spanish colonial-style church – which will be the largest Catholic Church in Oklahoma – an additional element will be a museum and pilgrim center. The center will welcome thousands of visitors each year to an experience that leads them through the life, witness, and martyrdom of Blessed Stanley.
The church will host many large diocesan events and will help accommodate the growing Hispanic population, which has left various area parishes significantly overcrowded.
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