More than 20,000 people gathered in the Cox Convention Center on Saturday to witness the beatification of an Oklahoma-born priest.
Father Stanley Rother was born in Okarche, Okla. in 1935. He served as a missionary in Guatemala for 13 years, introducing the people of Santiago Atitlan to farming techniques and establishing a radio station, among other services.
During that country's civil war, Rother braved violence from government soldiers and guerilla fighters. He was killed by three gunmen in 1981. In 2016, the Catholic Church recognized Rother as a martyr.
Attendees of the beatification ceremony included Catholics from Oklahoma, as well as bishops and cardinals from Italy and South Africa, hundreds of clergy and a delegation from Guatemala.
Rosemary Metzler of Tulsa was among the attendees. She said Rother serves as an example to all Oklahomans. "He was a courageous man, just a simple farm boy from Okarche, Oklahoma, and he did some amazing things because of his faith in God. And I guess it means that all of us can do something amazing," she said.
The beatification is the last step before canonization as a saint. In order for Rother to be declared a saint, the church must first verify a miracle associated with his legacy.
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