María Ruiz Scaperlanda

The Shepherd Who Didn't Run

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“The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.”

— FATHER STANLEY FRANCIS ROTHER

Father Stanley Rother was true to his word. He did not run. And he was
martyred at the age of 46.

Father Stanley arrived in Guatemala in 1968, and he immediately
identified with his parishioners’ simple, farming lifestyle. He learned their
languages, prepared them for the sacraments, and cared for their needs.
Father Stanley — or “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 of Santiago Atitlán. Disappearances,
killings, and danger became daily occurrences, but despite this unrest
Father Stanley remained hard at work, building a farmers’ 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 go back to Guatemala. But he could not abandon
his people, so he went back, and made the ultimate sacrifice for his faith.

“Pray for us that we may be a sign of the love of Christ for our people,”
said Father Stanley, “that our presence among them will fortify them to endure these su fferings in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom.”

Includes 16 pages of photos.
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271 printed pages
Original publication
2018

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