OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – The final finishing touches of the grand opening are mounting after a three month push back of preparations in Oklahoma ahead of the much-awaited shrine dedication to Blessed Stanley Rother on Feb. 17th.

Blessed Stanley Rother
Blessed Stanley Rother

The shrine complex will comprise of a church, pilgrim center, museum and souvenir shop. Father Rother was a missionary priest from Oklahoma who served in Guatemala. He served and ministered to the poorest of the poor indigenous peoples.

During the civil war between government troops and guerrillas, the priest’s name appeared on a death list. On July 28, 1981, Father Rother was killed by three men who broke into his rectory.

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma will dedicate the shrine along with Archbishop Gonzalo de Villa y Vasquez of Guatemala City. The function is said to attract believers from around the world who were touched by Blessed Stanley Rother.

The church set to be dedicated was built in the Spanish colonial style which is a sign of closeness with the Guatemalan people.

According to Leif Arvidson, the executive director of the shrine says, “the shrine will be a huge Catholic witness to the local community as it is dedicated to a priest who was born there. “He is a person that all Oklahomans can be proud of, not only Catholics but from other communities too,” he said.

It was in 2007 that the cause for canonization was officially started. In June 2015, the Holy See gave the green signal for the recognition of Father Rother as a martyr. On December 1st of the following year, Pope Francis recognized his martyrdom making way for his beatification on September 23, 2017.