There has never been a canonized martyr from the United States, but a vote at the Vatican this week may lead to an Oklahoma priest becoming the first. A special Theological Commission at the Congregation of the Causes of Saints in Rome voted Tuesday to formally recognize Father Stanley Rother a martyr. The determination of martyrdom is a critical step in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City’s Cause to have Father Rother beatified. “Father Rother laid down his life for Christ and for the people of his parish in Guatemala, whom he dearly loved. It is very encouraging to move one step closer to a formal recognition by the Church of Father Rother’s heroic life and death as a martyr for the Gospel,” said Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City. …Father Rother was born in Okarche and became a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He later became a missionary in Guatemala where he served as pastor of the parish of Santiago Atitlan. He chose to continue serving his people in spite of death threats, and on the morning of July 28, 1981, Father Rother was shot to death in his rectory.