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Remains of priest exhumed, verified as part of beatification process


  • The vault containing Father Stanley Rother's original casket is lifted from its gravesite at Holy Trinity Cemetery May 9 in Okarche, Okla. The priest's remains were transported to Oklahoma City. Father Rother, a North American priest who worked in Guatemala and was brutally murdered there in 1981, will be beatified Sept. 23 in Oklahoma. (CNS photo/Diane Clay, Sooner Catholic)
  • Father Stanley Rother, a priest of the Oklahoma City Archdiocese, is pictured in an undated photo. He was brutally murdered in 1981 in the Guatemalan village where he ministered to the poor. Father Rother will be beatified Sept. 23 in Oklahoma. (CNS photo/Diane Clay, Sooner Catholic)
  • Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and Sister Marita Rother, a member of Adorers of the Blood of Christ, who is the sister of Father Stanley Rother, examine the nameplate on his vault May 9 at Holy Trinity Cemetery in Okarche, Okla. Father Rother, a North American priest who worked in Guatemala and was brutally murdered there in 1981, will be beatified Sept. 23 in Oklahoma. (CNS photo/Diane Clay, Sooner Catholic)
  • An image of Christ is seen May 10 near the burial crypt of Father Stanley Rother at Resurrection Cemetery in northwest Oklahoma City. His remains, exhumed from an Okarche, Okla., cemetery May 9, were transported to the shrine and will remain there until a new shrine is completed. Father Rother, a North American priest who worked in Guatemala and was brutally murdered there in 1981, will be beatified Sept. 23 in Oklahoma. (CNS photo/Diane Clay, Sooner Catholic)

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OKARCHE, Okla. (CNS) -- Early on the morning of May 10, the remains of Father Stanley F. Rother were exhumed from Holy Trinity Cemetery in Okarche and transported to Oklahoma City.

As required by the Catholic Church for the beatification process, his remains were examined by medical professionals and re-interred in the chapel at Resurrection Cemetery in northwest Oklahoma City.

In March, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced that Father Rother, one its native sons who worked in Guatemala and was brutally murdered there in 1981, will be beatified Sept. 23 in a ceremony in downtown Oklahoma City.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes, will celebrate the beatification Mass along with Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City. Thousands of cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons and other Catholics from across the United States are expected to attend.

Pope Francis recognized Father Rother's martyrdom last December, making him the first martyr born in the United States and clearing the way for his beatification.

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City sent Father Rother, who grew up on a family farm in Okarche, to its mission in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, in 1968. He served a poor and indigenous community in the area, helping build a small hospital, a school and its first Catholic radio station. But he also helped the agricultural community with its crops and to build an irrigation system.

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