This past January, my seminary class traveled to Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala to visit the site of the martyrdom of Blessed Stanley Rother.
Blessed Stanley Rother was a diocesan priest from Okarche, Oklahoma, who volunteered for the diocesan mission in Guatemala in 1968. He did this despite not speaking Spanish. He loaded his pickup truck with various supplies and drove to the mission. Beyond his sacramental ministry, Fr. Stanley brought many practical skills with him, having been raised on a farm. Fr. Stanley helped parishioners improve their farming techniques, founded a local hospital, built a parish school, and translated the New Testament into the native dialect. He was known to go out into the fields with farmers and drive between villages with his motorcycle as the roads were too narrow for cars.
While serving in Guatemala, a civil war raged between government forces and guerrillas, with both groups often targeting the indigenous population. The Catholic Church stood in defense of the indigenous people, standing apart from both sides. During this conflict, thousands were kidnapped, tortured, and killed.
Blessed Stanley continued to serve even after receiving threats from the military government. These threats prompted his parishioners and superiors to beg him to leave. He refused to abandon his people despite the increasing peril to his own life. On the night of July 2, 1981, he was martyred in his rectory.
My seminary class had the privilege of visiting Fr. Stanley’s Parish and School. We were impressed by the dedication of the staff and the school’s programs despite their limited resources. The school currently has 140 students for K-8. Students are admitted regardless of economic status so the children can receive a Catholic Education. Beyond religious education, the school provides many opportunities that are not available in public schools, such as Music Lessons and a Computer Lab.
My seminary class is seeking to raise $25,000 to help alleviate the most urgent needs. These include:
NEW DESKS (150- $35 each), NEW COMPUTERS (30- $533 each) AND A TUBA FOR THE SCHOOL BAND ($2000)
We are doing this by appealing to the home parishes of the members of my class at St. Meinard’s Seminary. I ask first for your prayers for the schoolchildren and secondly to consider during this Lenten Season to financially assist these schoolchildren.
There are envelopes in the vestibule for your donations or you can go to:
Make checks payable to St. Meinrad Archabbey
Seminarian for the Diocese of Springfield
St. Katharine Drexel Parish