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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Construction is continuing on a shrine for a beloved Oklahoma priest who was killed in Guatemala.

Blessed Stanley Rother is well-known in the Catholic community for his mission work in Guatemala.

Blessed Stanley Rother
Blessed Stanley Rother

Rother started out as a farmer in Okarche before becoming a priest and a missionary.

Rother served in Guatemala during the country’s civil war, which was a dangerous time to be a leader of a church. In 1981, he was murdered for his faith.

“He had courage that he wanted to stay and go back to Guatemala to share his faith and share the love that he had of his people and then that love is gonna be transferred here to Oklahoma,” said Theresa Hurt.  

Rother was beatified by the Catholic Church, making him the first U.S. born person to be recognized as a martyr and beatified.

In March, hundreds of Oklahomans and the Archbishop of Oklahoma City signed their names to a beam that will permanently become part of the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine.

Now, crews have made even more progress on the shrine.

Credit: Diane Clay (Sooner Catholic)

On Thursday, construction crews lifted the dome onto the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine.

“This was a momentous moment in construction of the shrine that will become a visible beacon of faith for thousands of people from around the world. They will come to visit our state and city, and come to learn about our ordinary priest from Okarche who lived an extraordinary life,” said Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City. “I am grateful for everyone who has played a part in this project and look forward to the dedication next year.”

The dome for the shrine was built on the ground using cold-formed metal steel before being lifted onto the church. The dome is 34-feet tall and has a circumference of about 40 feet.

Diane Clay (Sooner Catholic)

“Now we’ve crowned this church. In this church, we endeavor to show Christ, to exalt Christ, and to manifest Christ to his people,” said Leif Arvidson, executive director of the shrine. “Thank you to Archbishop Coakley and archdiocesan staff for bringing us to this milestone, and to everyone from The Boldt Company, along with all of your subcontractors, for your good work. Thank you to Franck & Lohsen, ADG, Cooper Project Advisors, building committee members and board members. Thank you to our priests and benefactors. All of your prayers, support and hard work has brought us to this point.”

The shrine won’t be completed until late summer of 2022.

It will include a 2,000-seat church, a chapel where Blessed Stanley will be entombed, an education building, an event space, and several areas designed for shrines and devotion.

Along with the Spanish colonial-style church, organizers say there will be a museum and pilgrim center.