Kansas nun eager to see slain brother become a saint
June 25, 2017
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas nun said she is surprised that her slain brother could become a saint, but that it "couldn't happen to a nicer guy."
Marita Rother tells her hometown Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/2svwQhD ) that her brother, Stanley Rother, was tireless, committed and someone who taught her "how to live and how to die in dignity."
Stanley Rother was killed in 1981 after three men broke in to his Guatemala rectory. He was declared a martyr last year and will be beatified in September — the final stage before canonization as a saint.
The Eagle reports that Rother is the first American-born martyr and soon to be the first U.S. priest to be beatified.
"You don't think of those things when you're growing up, do you?" said Marita Rother, a member of the Wichita Center of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, where a small statue of Stanley Rother stands.
"The trouble is we think saints are that way all their life, but they're not. The one thing that has really been said a lot about him is he was a normal kid. There was nothing extraordinary, but it's what he did with the ordinary things that make the difference."
After Stanley Rother decided in 1968 to be a priest in Guatemala, Marita Rother saved every letter he sent her about his work there helping farmers with irrigation, using his farm background to increase crop yield, and starting a cooperative of weavers.
He worked with the Tz'utujil people — Mayan descendants — and learned to celebrate Mass in the native Tz'utujil language. But that had its risks: At a time when the Central American country was in the midst of a civil war between the right-wing government and the left-wing guerrillas, working with the Tz'utujil was perceived as political, and Catholics were often targeted.
Rother's name eventually appeared on a "death list" and he was urged to return home to Oklahoma — something he did briefly before returning to Guatemala, writing in a letter in late 1980 that "the shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger."
He was slain the next summer. Tz'utujil parishioners asked that his heart be kept in Guatemala, where it remains enshrined.
"He didn't go back to die; we knew that. He went back to live, to live for his people," Marita Rother said. "He had a great love, great love for the people."
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com