The Shepherd who Didn't Run
Fr Standley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma
AUTHOR Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda
“A shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.”
Fr. Stanley Rother was true to his word. He did not run. And was martyred at the age of 46. He arrived in Guatemala in 1968, and immediately identified with his parishioners' simple, farming lifestyle. He learned their languages, prepared them for the Sacraments, and cared for their needs. "Padre Francisco" as he was called by his beloved Tz'utujil Indians, had found his heart's calling.
After nearly a decade, the violence of the Guatemalan civil war found its way into the peaceful village. Disappearances, killings, and danger became daily occurrences, but despite this unrest Fr. Stanley remained hard at work, building a farmer's co-op, a school, a hospital, and the first Catholic radio station, used for catechesis.
In early 1981, his name was on a death list, so he returned to Oklahoma and was warned not to return. But he could not abandon his people, so he went back, and made the ultimate sacrifice for his faith.