Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week our reflection was written by Writer/Editor Maureen Lunn.
It was early 1980s Guatemala and Unbound was soon to be founded. The love, generosity and solidarity that first infused our program, and still does, was already in action on the ground there.
Father Stanley Francis Rother had been serving in the Oklahoma City archdiocese’s mission in Santiago Atitlan for more than 12 years. When the Catholic Church became a target in the Guatemalan civil war, Father Stan was murdered. Decades later, he would become the first recognized Catholic martyr born in the United States.
It’s said that Father Stan and Unbound co-founder Bob Hentzen met when Bob was laying the groundwork for our program, and that Father Stan recommended that Bob get in contact with the mission that would soon house our first program in Guatemala. That’s the recollection of Father John Goggin, a longtime missionary in San Lucas Toliman and coordinator of our Atitlan program.
What we know for sure is that, from the beginning of Unbound, Father Stan’s deep love for the people of Guatemala inspired our work and our commitment to walking with the poor.
At Father Stan’s memorial Mass in 1981, Bishop Angelico Melotto Mazzardo of Solola said:
“Those of us who knew Father Francisco Rother will never forget his goodness, his optimism, his generosity, his preoccupation for the poorest and those who suffered most.” (quoted in “The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run,” by Maria Scaperlanda)
At Unbound, we’re deeply inspired by Father Stan’s life and service.
The historic beatification of The Venerable Servant of God Stanley Francis Rother occurred on Saturday, Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City.
“O God, just like your servant Father Stanley Rother and our founders, from the very beginning, we’ve dreamed of freeing your people from hunger, from slavery, from pain. May your Spirit guide us into the hearts of our dear families, gently, humbly, so that together we become a community of compassion and service. So be it, amen!”
(Prayer by Unbound Church Relations Director Paco Wertin)