Monday, July 29, 2013

when does a saint become a saint?

I love the many photos of Father Stan with children
baptizing parishioner at Santiago Atitlán parish
Since my post yesterday, remembering the anniversary of Father Stanley Rother’s martyrdom, I’ve been thinking about how the ordinary work and devotion of one person can, truly, change and affect an entire community—and beyond.

Officially, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has presented Father Stan’s cause for canonization to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, making him a Servant of God.

But in reality, the people of Santiago Atitlán are not waiting for an official declaration. They already affirm Padre Apla’s (Francis in their native Tz’utujil language) a saint—their saint, and they come to him daily asking for his help and intercession, much as they did during the 13 years that he served them as their priest.

Father Stan’s death, like his life, is simply one more outward sign of his deep and abiding holy love for them.

He was a courageous missionary, who in spite of the violence that surrounded him, did not leave his flock. He is a great example for me, someone who gave his life for the People of God,” told me Sister Ambrosia, a member of the Hermanas Misioneras de la Eucaristía, Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist, who remembers and survived the years of violent social unrest in Guatemala.

I can’t tell you how much I admire him. He could have returned to his country, but instead he remained with his people here. He represents Jesus,” Sister Ambrosia emphasized, “who gave His life for all of us. All of Guatemala already knows that he is a saint.”

Father Stan visits with a parishioner
Present day Santiago Atitlán parishioner at Memorial Mass for Padre Apla's
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note: check out Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley's column (July 28, 2011) on Father Stanley Rother, reprinted here.