The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock
The pilgrims celebrated Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption in town of Jocotenango, near Antigua. Oklahoma City and Little Rock pilgrims stop at a church which is no longer used for Masses but for weddings and other events. Seminarian Deacon Martin Siebold joins local musicians at a welcome reception at Hotel Don Rodrigo in Panajachel. The day before the anniversary of Father Stanley Rother’s death, priests from Little Rock and Oklahoma City celebrate Mass with Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley at St. Martin of Tours Church in Cerro de Oro on July 27. Little Rock Bishop Anthony B. Taylor gave the homily. Bishop Taylor visits with local parishioners after Mass in Cerro de Oro. Bishop Taylor and other pilgrims travel in the back of a pick up while visiting Guatemala.  Pilgrims and local people pray at the shrine with Father Rother’s heart near the entrance of St. James Church in Santiago Atitlan. Deacons from Little Rock, Oklahoma City and the local parish prepare to lead a procession for Mass at St. James Church on July 28, the anniversary day of Fr. Rother’s death. Bishop Taylor (center) sits with Oklahoma City Archbishop emeritus Eusebius J. Beltran (right) and other bishops during Mass July 28. Seminarian Deacon Martin Siebold incenses the congregation during Mass at Santiago Atitlan July 28. Bishop Taylor celebrated a final outdoor Mass at 5:30 a.m. before sunrise at Hotel Don Rodrigo in Panajachel for the pilgrims returning to the United States.

Bishop observes 35th anniversary of Fr. Rother's death

Five-day Guatemalan pilgrimage included stop in the room where Fr. Rother was killed

Published: August 13, 2016      
Father Stephen Bird
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor gives a homily July 27 in St. Martin de Tours Church in Cerro de Oro, one of the towns Father Rother cared for.

Twenty Arkansans attended a pilgrimage to Guatemala July 25-29 to observe the 35th anniversary of the death of Servant of God Father Stanley Rother.

Father Rother was a priest for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City where Bishop Anthony B. Taylor was ordained in 1980.

Bishop Taylor and 65 others visited Father Rother’s Santiago Atitlan parish July 28 to remember his death in 1981 at the hands of assailants. The country’s civil war lasted for 36 years until 1996.

The five-day pilgrimage included stops at the room where he was killed that is now a shrine and another shrine in the church where his heart is buried. Joining Bishop Taylor, who was the archdiocese’s episcopal delegate for Father Rother’s sainthood cause until he became bishop of Little Rock in 2008, were several of Father Rother’s family members, Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley and retired Archbishop Eusebius Beltran. Nineteen priests, deacons and seminarians from the Diocese of Little Rock also attended.

Father Stephen Bird, pastor of Epiphany of the Lord Church in Oklahoma City and worship and spiritual life director for the archdiocese, has visited Guatemala six times and coordinated the pilgrimage. Father Bird was awarded the Father Stanley Rother Faithful Shepherd Award this year to recognize his commitment to the spiritual lives of his parishioners.

“On July 28, the church was emptied and the benches were placed in the courtyard. In other years there were 800 to 1,000 people (inside the church),” he said. “But we guessed there were almost 3,000 people there in the plaza for the Mass. What that means is that the interest in Father Rother is growing. His death happened 35 years ago. Anyone 35 years old and younger wasn’t even alive. Most people really had no knowledge of Father Rother. They are learning about him from the older people in town.”

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