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Decatur Church Named After First American Martyred Priest

DECATUR (KFSM) — A church in the small town of Decatur has changed its name to honor the first American-born priest beatified by the Catholic Church. Fath...

DECATUR (KFSM) -- A church in the small town of Decatur has changed its name to honor the first American-born priest beatified by the Catholic Church.

Father Stanley Rother, an Oklahoma native, was a priest at parishes in Oklahoma City and Tulsa before joining the staff at the Diocese's mission in Guatemala.

Rother served in Central America for more than a decade before being killed in 1981.

A cause for canonization was opened for Rother in 2007. He was eventually beatified by the church on Sept. 23, 2017 in Oklahoma City.

The next day, the Blessed Stanley Rother Mission in Decatur was officially dedicated and declared a mission, becoming the first in the work named after the martyr.

The church was opened in 2014 by Fr. Salvador Márquez-Muñoz, who still leads the congregation.

"[Father Stanley] was willing to serve Christ in communities where people didn't have a pastor," Márquez-Muñoz said of the dedication. "He was able to volunteer to be a missionary."

The mission's estimated 80 parishioners are immigrants of Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico.

Since being established, the congregation has grown, as have the number of services. Following the dedication, Márquez-Muñoz expects continued growth in the local church.

"A small rural community to receive that gift," Márquez-Muñoz said. "To us, the people and myself see it as a gift. A gift from god to our community."

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