The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has set a date for the groundbreaking of a $40 million sanctuary being built in South Oklahoma City.
The Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine will be dedicated at a public Mass set for Nov. 4 at the shrine site on SE 89 between Interstate 35 and Shields Boulevard.
The shrine is named after Blessed Stanley Rother, an Oklahoma priest on the path to Catholic sainthood. In 2016, Pope Francis declared him a martyr of the faith – the first recognized Catholic martyr in the United States. He was beatified in 2017 at a ceremony in downtown Oklahoma City.
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Rother was a farmer from Okarche who became a priest of what was then the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa in 1963. He served as a missionary in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala during a violent civil war. In 1981, he was killed in the presbytery of his Guatemalan church by unknown persons.
Bishop Paul Coakley, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, and Leif Arvidson, the shrine’s executive director, made the recent announcement of the shrine’s dedication date.
Catholic leaders said the dedication will be the main highlight of a week-long celebration.
“The shrine will be a beautiful place of prayer, reflection and pilgrimage for people from around the world who come to Oklahoma City to learn more about our native son and to ask for his intercession,” Coakley said.
“The dedication of the shrine will be a significant moment in the life of the Catholic Church in Oklahoma and for the community at large. Built to honor Blessed Stanley Rother, the first ever beatified American-born priest and martyr, the shrine will be his final resting place, a place of welcome, at the service of all.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the shrine was held in 2019. Oklahoma Catholic leaders said it was the hallmark of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City’s first fundraising campaign. titled “One Church, Many Disciples”.
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The site will eventually include a 2,000-seat church, a chapel where Rother will be buried, an educational building, event space and several designated areas for shrines and devotion. The site will be developed over time.
The Spanish Colonial-style Sanctuary Church will be the largest Catholic church in Oklahoma.
“This amazing church will serve as a beacon for anyone who passes by or visits or worships here,” Arvidson said in a press release. “In this church, we strive to show Christ, to exalt Christ and to manifest Christ to his people. The dedication will be an exciting event for the faithful Catholics and for the people of Oklahoma.
The church is expected to host many large diocesan events and will help accommodate the growing Hispanic population whose parishes are significantly overcrowded.
The design architect for the project is Franck & Lohsen Architects in Washington DC. They are supported by the local architectural firm ADG. The general contractor is The Boldt Company in Oklahoma City with Cooper Project Advisors as the owner’s representative.
For more information on dedication events, visit archokc.org/shrinededication. For more information about the shrine, go to rothershrine.org.