Feast of Blessed Stanley Rother (March 27)   3 comments

Above:  Flag of Guatemala

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED STANLEY FRANCIS ROTHER (MARCH 27, 1935-JULY 28, 1981)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in Guatemala, 1981

Roman Catholic feast day = July 28

Stanley Rother came to my attention in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  When I began to take notes, I learned that Pope Francis beatified Rother in 2017.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is one of my hobbies.  I, therefore, determine the feast days here.  Rother’s feast day, on my Ecumenical Calendar is March 27.

Rother overcame academic difficulties and low expectations to become a priest, a missionary, and a martyr.  Our saint, born in Okarche, Oklahoma, on March 27, 1935, was a son of farmers Franz Rother and Gertrude Smith (Rother).  He grew up with three siblings in a Roman Catholic family.  Stanley struggled at Assumption Seminary, San Antonio, Texas; he spent six years there and did not graduate.  He did, however, graduate from Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, in 1963.  The 28-year-old joined the ranks of priests on May 25, 1963.  He served in parishes and missions in Oklahoma through 1968.

Rother became a missionary to Guatemala in 1968.  This was his request and his life’s greatest work.  The priest ministered to the Tz’utujil people; his base of operations was Santiago Atitlan.  Our saint mastered the Spanish and Tz’utujil languages, preached and celebrated Mass in Tz’utujil, founded a hospital, and taught mathematics and language via a local radio station.  Rother was a conscientious, dutiful, and dedicated shepherd of his flock.

The Cold War provided the context for Rother’s work and fate, and distorted U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.  In 1954 the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) manufactured a coup and overthrew the popular, democratically-elected left-wing government that sought to prevent the United Fruit Company from continuing to exploit impoverished Guatemalans.  The C.I.A. replaced that government with a brutal military dictatorship.  The Guatemalan Civil War lasted from 1960 to 1996.  Government death squads supposedly targeted left-wing rebels, but really targeted innocent civilians, often at random.  Roman Catholic priests who spoke out on behalf of their poor, oppressed parishioners often became targets of Guatemalan Army death squads, which frequently operated with the support of the U.S. Government, especially in the 1980s, during the Reagan Administration.  The army death squads were not communists, at least.

Guatemalan oppression became worse in 1980 and 1981.  Forces destroyed the radio station.  Death squads abducted and murdered catechists and parishioners.  After left-wing guerrillas attacked a unit of the Guatemalan Army in the area of Santiago Atitlan in 1980, death squads killed seventeen random civilians.  Rother also became a target for death squads.  He left Guatemala in January 1981 yet returned to his flock on April 11.  A death squad executed Rother in his rectory on July 28, 1981.  He was one of ten priests death squads murdered that year, with the backing of the Reagan Administration.

A Guatemalan appellate court bowed to pressure from the Reagan Administration to overturn the convictions of the murderers.  They were not communists, at least.

What happened to ideals?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT AND HIS PUPIL, SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIANS

THE FEAST OF DANIEL J. SIMUNDSON, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HENRY AUGUSTUS COLLINS, ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BARNBY, ANGLICAN CHURCH MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SOMERSET CORRY LOWRY, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, who gave to your servant Blessed Stanley Rother

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ

before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 713

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This is post #1900 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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3 responses to “Feast of Blessed Stanley Rother (March 27)

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  1. He was a social justice warrior who was killed in the battle he was fighting. So sad!

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