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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Construction is officially underway for what will be the largest Catholic church in the state.

Archbishop Paul Coakley, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, Archbishop Emeritus Eusebius Beltran, Tulsa Bishop David Konderla and Little Rock Bishop Anthony Taylor gathered on Sunday at the future home of the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine.

“The shrine will attract thousands of visitors each year and we’re honored to host it here in Oklahoma City,” Holt said. “I’m excited to participate in the launching of this important project that reflects our city’s diverse faith community and honors an esteemed Oklahoman.”

Rother was a priest born in Okarche. He was gunned down by assassins while doing mission work in Guatemala in 1981.

Blessed Stanley Rother

According to the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the $40 million shrine “is the signature element of the first-ever capital campaign for the archdiocese, ‘One Church, Many Disciples.'”

The site will include a 2,000-seat church, a devotional prayer chapel where Blessed Stanley will be buried, classrooms for religious education and ministry facilities. The site will be developed over time.

Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine; Courtesy: Diana Clay
Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine Conceptual Drawing; Courtesy: Diana Clay

The church will be the largest Catholic church in Oklahoma.

There will also be a Blessed Stanley Rother Museum and Pilgrim Center. It will feature artifacts from his life, videos and testimony – all in hopes of keeping his life and legacy alive for future generations.

Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine Site Plan; Courtesy: Diana Clay

“The shrine is being built to honor Blessed Stanley Rother, an Oklahoma original and the first U.S.-born priest and martyr ever beatified,” said Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City. “It will be a place of pilgrimage where the faithful will come from near and far to honor Blessed Stanley at his final resting place and to seek his intercession for their many needs. It will be a place of welcome, serving all people.”

The site of the shine is on S. 89th between Shields Blvd. and I-35 in Oklahoma City.