Thursday, February 4, 2016

'The Shepherd Who Didn't Run' Blog Tour: Day 8, Karen Edmisten

How blessed I am to have generous friends who are willing and even excited to help me spread the story of this great saint and martyr!

"The Shepherd Who Didn't Run" Blog Tour continues today at Karen Edmisten's, "the blog with the shockingly clever title." 

Karen is a gifted writer and author, and she has a new book coming out THIS month (and already available for preorder!), "You Can Share the Faith, Reaching out one person at a time," also from Our Sunday Visitor Books.  

It's a genuine privilege to be part of Our Sunday Visitor's blog tour for a new book from my friend, María Ruiz Scaperlanda. Here she is:

 Don't you want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her?

Here's a little more about her: 
In the past 30 years, María has been published broadly in the U.S., including the New York TimesOur Sunday VisitorSt. Anthony MessengerColumbia, and other national and diocesan publications. 
Maria’s work as a Catholic journalist has taken her on international assignments in Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and throughout Europe. But perhaps her favorite assignment was covering Pope John Paul II’s historic visit to her native country, Cuba. 
Her primary life-time assignment, however, has been as wife to Michael for 34 years, mother to four grown children—and now “Bella" to six adorable grandchildren!

In addition to her journalism, María has written a number of books. Her latest, The Shepherd Who Didn't Run: Fr. Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahomapublished by Our Sunday Visitor, tells the extraordinarily moving story of Fr. Stanley Rother, a missionary and martyr who died at the age of 46.

A brief summary of the book from OSV:
Fr. Stanley arrived in Guatemala in 1968, and immediately identified with his parishioners' simple, farming lifestyle. He learned their languages, prepared them for the Sacraments, and cared for their needs. Fr. 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. Disappearances, killings, and danger became daily occurrences, but despite this unrest Fr. Stanley remained hard at work, building a farmer's 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 return. But he could not abandon his people, so he went back, and made the ultimate sacrifice for his faith.

Perhaps the best way to introduce you to the book is through a conversation with María. I think you'll find, as I did, that you are touched by María and her spirit before you even get to the first gripping pages of this beautiful book about a holy and inspiring Servant of God.

Q. When and how did you first learn about Fr. Stanley Rother's story? What made you want to write a book about him? 

Karen, I want to begin by thanking you for your interest in my book—and above all, for helping me spread the story of Oklahoma Martyr Father Stanley Rother!  I am so happy to be “here” today. 

The Church of Oklahoma has done a great job of making sure that the story of Father Stanley Rother is passed on from generation to generation. When we first moved to the state, my kids (who attended Catholic schools here) came home talking about the local priest who died in Guatemala—and I became intrigued! I wrote a few articles about Father Stanley for various Catholic publications.  Years later, when the Archdiocese opened the cause and began working on this project, I was invited to be part of the Historical Commission, mostly working with the Spanish documents.  This is the group that collected information on Father Stanley and prepared a report to send to the Vatican requesting to open his Cause for Canonization. 

A year after our work was completed, our group traveled to Guatemala and made a pilgrimage to Santiago Atitlán the parish and village where Father Stanley lived and where he was killed. On that trip I also met our (then) new Archbishop, Paul S. Coakley. And it was Archbishop Coakley who invited me – and commissioned me, to write the book! 

Working on this project and telling the story of this holy man has been such a privilege. Our world is so hungry for heroes!  And this farm boy from Oklahoma who grew up to be a martyr for Christ is so much more than a comic book super hero. He shows us that we are all called to be holy where we are, as we are—and that is true heroism. 

Q. Fr. Rother was from Oklahoma, where you currently make your home. How long have you lived in Oklahoma, and what brought you there? What has surprised you the most about Oklahoma and its people? 

Our family moved from Texas to Oklahoma 22 years ago because my husband Michael came to teach at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.  Michael and I met at the University of Texas Catholic Student Center, so we call ourselves displaced Longhorns living in Oklahoma Sooner-land.  Since you’re in Nebraska, I think you understand what this fiery dynamic really means, especially during football season! 

But since I was not born in either, I will risk offending both Texans and Oklahomans by saying that I think they have more in common than they do differences.  The southwest is such a unique, colorful, friendly world. The people of Oklahoma are generous, welcoming, easy-going. Perhaps it’s living in tornado alley, but it takes a lot to rattle people here! 

Coming from a Hispanic Catholic culture where being Catholic is the assumption, what has been a surprise and a great witness to me is how strong the Catholic Church is in Oklahoma, where Catholics comprise 3-6 percent of the population!  When I hear colleagues talk about their state’s church experience, especially in the two coasts, I am reminded about how blessed we are to be living here. We have a strong and active Catholic community in Oklahoma – and a great leader in Oklahoma City’s Archbishop Coakley. 

Q. What surprised you the most about Fr. Rother's story? 

To read the answer and the rest of Karen's conversation with me, just click here!