OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Mass and dedication of the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine in Oklahoma City has been rescheduled to early 2023.

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Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, photo from Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Archbishop Paul Coakley announced this week that the shrine will be dedicated on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023.

The mass and dedication was originally scheduled for Nov. 4, but was moved back to ensure all non-construction items are ready and staff is in place for the shrine to open immediately upon dedication, according to an Archdiocese of Oklahoma City news release.

Festivities, masses and the vigil with Rother’s casket at The Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help that were originally scheduled for the week preceding the dedication will be held the week of Feb. 12. Details about the events will be shared on social media, in the Sooner Catholic newspaper and in parish bulletins.

“I am thankful The Boldt Company and contractors will be meeting their deadlines this fall, giving us ample time to ensure the shrine, museum and pilgrim center will be open to the public the day of the dedication,” Coakley said. “This is a once in a lifetime project and we want it to be ready to properly serve our Catholic community, especially our growing Hispanic population, and to welcome pilgrims from around the world on Day 1. It will be worth the wait!”

The blessing of Tepeyac Hill to Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Juan Diego will be celebrated Dec. 12, 2022, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on the northwest corner of the shrine campus.

The first masses at the shrine campus for Sacred Heart Catholic Church will be held Feb. 18-19. Weekend masses will continue at Sacred Heart until the Shrine opens. Daily masses will be conducted at the Shartel location of Historic Sacred Heart after Feb. 19.

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The statues on top of the Tepeyac Hill at the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine were raised to the top of the hill with a crane on Aug. 9, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Avery Holt, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City)

Parishioners are preparing for the move to the new location, according to Father Don Wolf, shrine rector.

“It became clear we needed more time once construction was completed to get the shrine, the museum and the parish offices ready to go. This will be a magnificent place of pilgrimage for generations of people who will come to honor Blessed Stanley and glorify God,” Wolf said. “Taking an extra few months to get this perfect is the right thing to do.”

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Rother, for whom the shrine was named, was an Okarche farmer-turned-priest who was murdered in his rectory during a violent civil war in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, in 1981. His killers were never captured. Pope Francis declared Rother a martyr for the faith in 2016, making Rother the first recognized Catholic martyr from the United States. He was beatified in 2017 in Oklahoma City.

The $50 million shrine and pilgrim center will be developed over time and eventually include a 2,000-seat, Spanish colonial-style church, which will be the largest Catholic Church in the state, a chapel where Rother will be entombed, an education building, an event space and several areas designated for shrines and devotion.

“This amazing church will serve as a beacon for anyone who passes by or visits or worships here. In this church, we endeavor to show Christ, to exalt Christ, and to manifest Christ to his people. The dedication will be an exciting event for the Catholic faithful and for the people of Oklahoma,” said Leif Arvidson, executive director of the shrine.

The church will host many large diocesan events and help accommodate the growing Hispanic community whose parishes are significantly overcrowded, according to the news release.