Monday 20 September 2021

The Shepherd Who Didn't Run Blessed Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma - Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda

The Shepherd Who Didn't Run: 
Blessed Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma
ISBN ‎9781681924564
eISBN 9781612789217

I knew almost nothing about Father Stanley Francis Rother when I began reading this book. I had stumbled across mentions of it a few times. And the cover definitely intrigued me. But I did not know much about what I was getting in for. This story took place during my formative years. And I was in grade school when Blessed Stanley was martyred. This story was a powerful read and it was deeply moving. Over the last few years I have read several stories about military chaplains, and their sacrifice. This is the first of a missionary that was as moving and powerful. In some ways the life of Blessed Stanley reminds me of Father Emil Kapaun

This was a deeply moving story. I am now a few years older than Blessed Stanley when he was martyred at the age of 46. His feast day is July 28th. The chapters in this volume are:

Foreword by Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City
Introduction by Sister Marita Rother, A.S.C.
1: Love to the Extreme Limit
2: Son of the Red Earth State
3: A New Beginning
4: MICATOKLA: Stanley’s New Home
5: Padre Francisco
6: He Died an Atiteco
7: The Flesh of Jesus
Epilogue by Most Reverend Eusebius J. Beltran, Archbishop Emeritus of Oklahoma City

This is a wonderful story of faith, of service and of faithfulness. It is moving and inspirational. It was a fascinating story to read. God called and Stanley followed. Even when he did not see a way. For example when he struggled academically. Especially with Latin and then god blessed his with a gift for the Tz’utujil even though he struggled with Ladinos.

““This language is fantastic,” Stanley wrote in a letter to Sister Marita. Explaining further, he wrote:

It isn’t related to any other besides the others here in Guatemala. There are 22 different Indian languages here. The Mayans reached the height of their civilization around the year 1,000 and had a very advanced culture. For some reason they declined and split up into groups or tribes when the Spanish came…. [T]hey were baptized in a wholesale manner, but they never gave up their culture and customs. They still haven’t. They still have their language and especially in our area.”

His one sister was a nun and they were particularly close. But his whole family was close. Some of his greatest hardships were when he could not make it home for special family events. But even that sacrifice Stanley gave up for his beloved flock. Stanley was a simple hard working famer, who was called to the harvest of souls. But the work ethic he learned growing up in rural Oklahoma served him as he served others. From building a retreat centre, to harvesting side by side with his flock. Stanley knew his main ministry was one of service and presence. He made time for others. And had patterns of spending time with people. He met people where they were. And his presence challenged them to more. 

This story will inspire and challenge all who read it. As we read about the time and place where he served. We will think of our own time and place and how we can serve and live better. How we can follow Stanley’s example and be better at being. An excellent read that I highly recommend!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda:
Edith Stein: The Life and Legacy of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Rosemary Nyirumbe: Sewing Hope in Uganda
Their Faith Has Touched Us: The Legacies of Three Young Oklahoma City Bombing Victims
The Seeker's Guide to Mary
The Journey: A Guide for the Modern Pilgrim

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