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Friday, February 5, 2016
'The Shepherd Who Didn't Run' Blog Tour: Day 9, Karen Anne Mahoney
Our next stop on 'The Shepherd Who Didn't Run' Blog Tour is the beautifully titled blog, "Musings from an Irish Heart"by Karen Anne Mahoney!
Karen describes herself as a Catholic woman trying to live a holy life... as a wife, mother, grandmother and writer--much like me! I would also add that Karen is a generous, loving friend and a prayerful, faithful woman of faith.
With thanks to Karen for joining this crazy cyber-tour...
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When I first learned about Maria Scaperlanda’s latest book, The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run,” admittedly, I was a little embarrassed because I had not heard of Fr. Stanley Rother, the Oklahoma priest murdered in Guatemala. As a Catholic writer, I felt as if I had missed the boat in not hearing about this incredible priest who was martyred for the Faith.
Luckily for me, my friend Maria sent me this book and I was able to catch up. For those who think that martyrs were only around in “the olden days” think again. Fr. Stanley Rother is a modern day martyr who lived and died for the Faith.
Rother and his four siblings grew up on a farm in very rural Okarche, Oklahoma in a deeply religious family. He learned all aspects of farm life from his father and was expected to carry on in the family business. But one day, he startled his family when he opted for clerics and a bible rather than blue jeans and a pitchfork. Young Stanley was called to the priesthood.
The seminary was difficult for him as he was not the best student. Failing class after class, Fr. Stanley persevered, calling upon the intercession of St. John Vianney for assistance. He was sent to serve in rural Oklahoma, but was soon called to missionary work in Guatemala to serve the indigenous Tz’utujil community of Santiago Atitlán. The agricultural community was perfect for Fr. Stanley with his farming background. He worked alongside his parishioners to build a farmer’s co-op, a hospital, school and the first Catholic radio station. Through this station, catechizing even more remote villages was possible.
Fr. Stanley was loved so much in his little village that he became known as Padre Francisco, and later called Padre Aplas. He was a quiet and faith filled man and one who reminds me a bit of Pope Francis for his kindness and willingness to selflessly serve others.
Unfortunately, the Guatemalan civil war encroached in the peaceful community that Fr. Stanley had now called home. Each day there was more violence, killings and disappearances. Santiago Atitlán became a dangerous place for Fr. Stanley due to his relationship and camaraderie with the people. There were many who wanted him to leave and to “encourage him,” death threats were levied upon his parishioners. His life was also threatened, but he didn’t want to abandon the people he loved so much. He often repeated the words of Jesus to reinforce his mission, “At the first signs of danger, a shepherd can’t run.” John 10
For a short time, Fr. Stanley returned home to Oklahoma when the violence was at its vilest. His name had been placed on a death list and he was warned not to return to Guatemala. Not wanting to leave the people, he returned in time to celebrate Holy Week with his parishioners. Three months later, on July 28, 1981, he was sleeping in his library when three masked men entered the room in an attempt to kidnap and murder him. The invaders shot him twice, once in the jaw and once in the temple.
Through Fr. Stanley’s witness, we see his heart for Jesus, the Good Shepherd. A heart after the “one who gives his life for the sheep.”