Blessed Stanley Francis Rother was beatified Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City. It was the final step before formal recognition as a saint. Father Rother, an American priest who was martyred in Guatemala in 1981, was a contemporary of Unbound’s late co-founders Bob Hentzen and Jerry Tolle.
Concepcion sits on the steps outside the church in Santiago Atitlan where Blessed Stanley Rother served as pastor.
Our organization has long felt a special affinity for Father Rother, who, in the Tz’utujil dialect of those he served, was affectionately called “Padre A’plas” (Father Francisco). Several of those who knew and worked with him are also members of the Unbound community. The following interview, which took place in Guatemala in October, is with one of those individuals.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Concepcion, and on Oct. 11 I will turn 62 years old. I have 11 children. The eldest is 45 years old and the youngest is 15 years old. I now have 13 grandchildren.
My husband is 69 years old, and he works the in the field. I take care of the household duties, and whenever I have a chance I make traditional clothing.
Father Stanley Rother at a Carnival celebration in Guatemala. Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.
Father Stanley Francis Rother served in Guatemala at the mission in Santiago Atitlan starting in 1968. As the Guatemalan civil war raged between military and guerilla forces, the Catholic Church became a target. Determined to stay with the people, Father Stan remained in Guatemala and was murdered in July 1981.
Unbound’s co-founder Bob Hentzen met Father Stan while working in Guatemala. Father Stan’s love for God and people has long served as inspiration for our work.
In December 2016, Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of Father Stan, whose beatification (the final step before sainthood) will take place Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City. Father Stan was a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, and is the first recognized Catholic martyr born in the United States.
Unbound staff member Barclay Martin recently traveled to Guatemala and listened to the stories of many who knew Father Stan, and here he reflects on that journey.
Blanca sits outside her home with her two youngest sons, Mynor (left) and Osber (right).
Blanca displays some of the trophies she has won at running competitions.
People go running for many reasons. Some do it to get healthy, some for the competition and some to support a cause. Blanca is a 29-year-old mom of four living in Guatemala whose daughter, Berberlin, 13, is sponsored
by Wayne from Montana. Blanca is also a runner. Her main reason for running is simple: to support her family.
Carlos Lopez, a former sponsored child and now Unbound staff member, stands in his home in Guatemala.
Carlos Lopez has seen his life transform from humble roots to a bright future.
With the help and encouragement he received from Unbound and his longtime sponsor, today Carlos serves as a legal adviser for Unbound’s Hermano Pedro program, supporting the very community that that helped him grow up. He recently completed law school.
Sponsored child Cindy from Guatemala reads a letter from her sponsor.
An interruption in Guatemala’s postal services has delayed the delivery of letters to children and elders sponsored through Unbound.
Mail services in Guatemala halted May 18 as the company that operates those services attempted to negotiate a new contract with the Guatemalan government, local news agencies reported.
Sponsors should expect delays in their letters reaching children and elders even after mail service resumes, since Unbound offices will have a backlog of letters to process.
The disruption in mail service will not affect the delivery of letters from sponsored children and elders in Guatemala to their sponsors, however, since Unbound uses a private delivery service for correspondence sent to the U.S.
We encourage sponsors, especially at this time, to communicate with their sponsored friends in Guatemala using our convenient eLetter option. Visit unbound.org/eletter to learn more.
A lawn visited by the Woodmont youth group’s “flocking flamingos.”
You wake up one morning, and as you’re going about your normal routine you glance out at your front lawn. But it looks a bit different than usual. Somehow, a flock of plastic flamingos has made its way to your lawn.
Over the last few months, members of the Woodmont Christian Church in Tennessee have experienced “flockings” courtesy of their youth group. It’s not a prank but one of the fundraising strategies the youth group developed for their “Guats Up” initiative.
Their goal? To build a house in Guatemala for a family that needs one.
Mothers in Guatemala tend to tree seedlings in a reforestation project they created to help restore their local environment.
Today is Arbor Day! In one area of Guatemala, one community started a new initiative to grow two trees for each sponsored child.
What do you get when you cross an interesting photo with the CFCA blog? A CFCA caption contest of course! Send us your best caption for this pic to win a CFCA coffee mug.
By Amanda Burian, CFCA communications project manager
From left: Rigoberto, Natali, Darvin, Dayana, Audelina and Rebeca in front of their new home. Natali and Dayana are sponsored by Ken and Linda Vilag.
Not long ago, owning a home that was safe and comfortable seemed like an unattainable dream for Rigoberto and Audelina, the parents of four young children in Guatemala.
“[Owning a home] might have been in my dreams, but it was never considered a reality,” Rigoberto said.
In February, the family received the keys to their very own home. Their dreams were made possible through the support of Ken and Linda Vilag, who sponsor two of their girls: Helen, who goes by her middle name, Dayana; and Natali.
Audelina and her children in their former one-room home.
Before receiving support through sponsorship, the family faced many hardships and daily life was a struggle.
They lived on the property of Audelina’s brother and didn’t have much to call their own.
“We only had one room built with tin sheets,” Rigoberto said. “We were all piled up in that room. There was no space for our things, and it was chaotic at times. Read more
By Kristin Littrell, CFCA correspondent
Floridalma and her daughters, Bridia (left), sponsored through CFCA, and Lilian (right).
CFCA is not a one-size-fits-all organization. We rely on our field staffs to know the families in each community, to listen to their needs and hopes, and to provide a program that empowers them to build a path out of poverty.
In the final post in this three-part blog series, we give you a window into several CFCA communities, to gauge the success of the Hope for a Family sponsorship program.
It takes 20 minutes on the back of a motorcycle, up steep and narrow dirt roads, to get to Floridalma’s home.
She lives in Chuixilon, a small Guatemalan village, where rolling fields of strawberries are sheltered by the peaks of nearby mountains. It is beautiful and remote. The air smells like strawberries mixed with fresh pine, and only the moon and the stars light the streets at night. Read more