Today is the Remembrance of Venerable Stanley Rother, Priest and Martyr (died 1981). By Royal Proclamation, today is Acadian Remembrance Day.
Stanley Francis Rother was born in 1935 in Okarche, Oklahoma; after completing his high school studies he declared his calling to the priesthood to his parents. His parents were pleased with their son’s decision though his father asked him: “Why didn’t you take Latin instead of working so hard as a future farmer of America?” To prepare for the priesthood he was sent to the Saint John Seminary and then to the Assumption Seminary in San Antonio in Texas. His talents gained working on the farm left him with other duties at the seminary, serving as a sacristan, groundskeeper, bookbinder, plumber, and gardener, and his studies suffered; he struggled learning Latin. After almost six years the seminary staff advised him to withdraw. After consultation with his local bishop he then attended Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland from which he graduated in 1963; he was ordained as a priest on May 25th, 1963. Rother then served as an associate pastor in various parishes around Oklahoma: Saint Williams in Durant, Saint Francis Xavier and the Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa, and Corpus Christi in Oklahoma City. In 1968, at his own request, he was assigned to the mission of the archdiocese to the Tz’utujil people located in Santiago Atitlán in the rural highlands of southwest Guatemala. He set out to work to learn Spanish and the Tzutuhil language, which was an unwritten and indigenous language. He supported a radio station located on the mission property which transmitted daily lessons in both language and mathematics. During that time, in addition to his pastoral duties he translated the New Testament into Tz’utujil and began the regular celebration of the Mass in Tz’utujil. In the late 1960s Rother founded in Panabaj a small hospital, dubbed as the “Hospitalito”. By 1975 Rother had become the de facto leader of the Oklahoma-sponsored mission effort in Guatemala as other religious and lay supporters rotated out of the program. He was a highly recognizable figure in the community, owing to his light complexion as well as his habit of smoking tobacco in a pipe. Since there was not a Tzutuhil name equivalent to “Stanley,” the people of Father Rother’s mission affectionately called him “Padre A’Plas,” translated as “Father Francis,” a nod to his middle name. At the beginning of 1981 he was warned that his name was on a death list (he was number eight on the list) and that he should leave Guatemala at once to remain alive. The radio station had been destroyed and its director killed, reportedly by right-wing extremist death squads attached to elements of the Guatemalan armed forces. Roth returned to Texas in January 1981, but returned to Guatemala to be with his people in May. On the morning of July 28th just after midnight, gunmen broke into the rectory of his church and forced the teenager Francisco Bocel (who was in the church at the time) to lead them to the bedroom of the “red-bearded Oklahoma-born missionary.” The men threatened to kill Bocel if he did not show them Rother and so Bocel led them downstairs and knocked on a door near the staircase saying: “Father. They are looking for you.” Rother opened the door and a struggle ensued as Bocel ran upstairs; he heard Rother yell: “Kill me here!” One shot pierced his jaw and the fatal shot struck the left temple; there were bruises on both hands. Father Rother was one of ten priests murdered in Guatemala that year. His remains were flown back to Oklahoma and were buried in his hometown on August 3rd, 1981, in Holy Trinity Cemetery. At the request of his former Tzutuhil parishioners, his heart was removed and buried under the altar of the church where he had served. Three men were arrested on charges of murder within weeks of Rother’s murder; another man and a women were sought for questioning at that stage as well. The three men arrested admitted to having entered the church in a robbery attempt, and also admitted to having shot Rother dead when the priest attempted to stop them. Despite the confessions, many people familiar with the circumstances of the murder considered the three accused persons as innocent, and the prosecutions to be a cover-up of paramilitary involvement in the murder. Convictions for all three men were later overturned by a Guatemalan appellate court, under pressure from United States authorities. No other suspects have been prosecuted for the murder. The beatification process was set to open in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City but the cause had to first be transferred to the archdiocese from Guatemala because a cause opens in the diocese where the individual died. He was named a Servant of God in 2009. On December 1st, 2016 he was named Venerable, and his beatification received approval from Pope Francis after the Pope confirmed that Rother had been killed “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith). Rother will be beatified on September 23rd, 2017 as the first Beatified American-born priest and martyr at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, with Cardinal Angelo Amato presiding over the beatification in his capacity as Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints, on the Pope’s behalf. If you know of any miracles that can be attributed to Father Rother, please contact the Vatican. Turning to Acadian Remembrance Day, on this date in 1755 Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Lawrence, Governor of Nova Scotia under the British, signed the order ordering the expulsion of the French Catholic colonists from the Acadie sections of Nova Scotia. In 1763 a group of Acadian exiles in Philadelphia sent a petition protesting the expulsion to King George III of Great Britain. Because the King never responded to the petition, Warren A. Perrin, a Cajun attorney and cultural activist from Erath, Louisiana, resurrected the petition in 1990 and threatened to sue England if it refused to acknowledge the illegality of the Grand Derangement. After thirteen years of discussions, Perrin (by then a member of CODOFIL, the Council for Development of French in Louisiana) and his supporters in the United States and Canada persuaded Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Queen of Canada, to issue a royal proclamation acknowledging the historical fact of the Great Upheaval and consequent suffering experienced by the Acadian people. The Royal Proclamation of 2003, formally known as Proclamation Designating July 28 of Every Year as “A Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval”, Commencing on July 28, 2005, is a document issued by Queen Elizabeth II acknowledging responsibility and expressing regret concerning the Grand Dérangement, England’s expulsion of French-speaking Acadian peasant farmers from Nova Scotia beginning in 1755. (And about time, too.)
Last night I continued reading Kiss My Asterisk: A Feisty Guide to Punctuation and Grammar by Jenny Baranick via Kindle on my tablet, and I continued reading Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations by Garson O’Toole via Kindle on my tablet.
On getting up to get ready for work I posted to Facebook that today was Acadian Remembrance Day. I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the First Day of my Transfiguration Novena. When we clocked in at 3:00 am at the casino, Richard was at first on Four Card Poker, then he was on Three Card Blackjack until they closed that table; he spent the rest of the day on a Blackjack table. I was the Relief Dealer for Mini Baccarat, Pai Gow, and Blackjack. (When people ask us what we do, I just usually say “we deal table games / Blackjack at the casino”; that is easier than saying, “We deal Blackjack, Three Card Blackjack, Mississippi Stud, Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, Flop Poker, Four Card Poker, Mini Baccarat, and Pai Gow, but we do not deal Poker in the big room, Pitch Blackjack, Roulette, or Dice.”)
After we clocked out at 11:00 am we went to the Pharmacy, where I picked up my psych prescription. On our way home I started reading The Waking Engine by David Edison, and Richard stopped at the hardware store for our sewer line root removal crystals. Once home from work I read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad while Richard mowed the grass. I then watched MST3K Episode 107 Robot Monster (a robot, played by a man with a space helmet over a gorilla suite, attempts to kill the last few survivors on earth; the music score was done by Elmer Bernstein, who later did the music scores for The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments and Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video), with the short films Radar Men from the Moon, Part 4: “Flight to Destruction” and Radar Men from the Moon, Part 5: “Murder Car”. I then came to the computer and did a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts for this weblog. Our mail brought us our new packages of checks, which will take us a good long time to get through, as most of our banking is done via debit card and online payments. At 4:30 pm we watched Jeopardy!, and I will now do some reading before going to bed.
Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Martha (died about 80). Tomorrow is also International Tiger Day. We will work our eight hours at the casino, and I will continue reading The Waking Engine by David Edison. In the afternoon Richard will pay the bills and go to the grocery store; I will watch another MST3K Episode, then go to bed for the duration.
Our Parting Quote this Friday afternoon comes to us from Eileen Brennan, American actress. Born as Vera Eileen Brennan in 1932 in Los Angeles, California, her father was a doctor and her mother was a silent film actress. She first appeared in plays with the Mask and Bauble Society at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., starring in a production of Arsenic and Old Lace. Her exceptional comic skills and romantic soprano voice propelled her from unknown to star in the title role of Rick Besoyan’s off-Broadway tongue-in-cheek musical / operetta Little Mary Sunshine (1959), earning Brennan an Obie Award and inclusion among an esteemed group of eight other thespians who won the Theatre World Award that year for “Promising New Personality”, including Warren Beatty, Jane Fonda, Carol Burnett and a very young Patty Duke. Unwilling to be pigeonholed as a singing comedienne, Brennan took on one of the most arduous and demanding roles a young actress could ask for when she portrayed Annie Sullivan role in a major touring production of The Miracle Worker in 1961. After proving her dramatic mettle she returned willingly to the musical theatre fold and made a very beguiling Anna in a 1963 production of The King and I. She took her first Broadway bow in another comic operetta, The Student Gypsy (1963), an unofficial sequel to Little Mary Sunshine. She went on to create the role of Irene Malloy in the original Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! (1964). Her feature film debut was in Divorce American Style (1967), and soon became one of the most recognizable (if unidentifiable) supporting actresses in film and television. Her roles were usually sympathetic characters, though she played a variety of other character types, including earthy, vulgar and sassy, but occasionally “with a heart of gold.” A year after her feature film debut she became a semi-regular on the comedy-variety show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, but stayed for only two months. Brennan received excellent reviews as brothel madam Billie in George Roy Hill’s Oscar-winning 1973 film The Sting as the confidante of con man Henry Gondorf (Paul Newman). Although her name was not often recognized by the general public, she became a favorite of many directors, in particular Peter Bogdanovich. She appeared in Bogdanovich’s 1971 classic The Last Picture Show(for which she received a BAFTA nomination for best supporting actress) and his 1974 adaptation of the Henry James novella Daisy Miller. Bogdanovich was the only director who made use of her musical talents when he cast her as Cybill Shepherd’s crude, fun-loving maid in his 1975 musical flop At Long Last Love. Meanwhile, Brennan appeared in one All In The Family episode, “The Elevator Story” (1972), as Angelique McCarthy. She also worked with director Robert Moore and writer Neil Simon, appearing in Murder by Death as Tess Skeffington (the femme fatale to Peter Falk’s Sam Diamond) (1976); and The Cheap Detective (1978). She had a starring role, playing Mutha in the 1978 movie, FM, about rock radio. In 1980 Brennan received a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her role as Goldie Hawn’s nasty commanding officer in Private Benjamin. She reprised the role in the television adaptation (1981–1983), for which she won an Emmy (supporting actress) as well as a Golden Globe (lead actress). Brennan received an Emmy nomination for her guest starring role in the Taxi episode “Thy Boss’s Wife” (1981). After having dinner together one night in 1982, Brennan and Hawn left a restaurant, and Brennan was hit by a drunk driver and was critically injured with crushed legs and a crushed eye socket. She took three years off work to recover, and had to overcome a subsequent addiction to painkillers. It was during this time that her performance as Mrs. Peacock in Clue (1985) reached theaters. She played Miss Bannister in The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988) and was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress. In 1989 she was in a production of Annie and fell off of the stage, breaking her leg. She became recognized as a breast cancer survivor, having had a mastectomy in 1990. In the 1990s she appeared in Stella with Bette Midler, Bogdanovich’s Texasville (the sequel to The Last Picture Show), and Reckless. She had a recurring role on the sitcom Blossom as the neighbor / confidant of the title character. In 2001 she made a brief appearance in the horror movie Jeepers Creepers as The Cat Lady. In 2002 she starred in the dark comedy film Comic Book Villains with DJ Qualls. In recent years Brennan had guest-starred in television, including recurring roles as the nosy Mrs. Bink in 7th Heaven and as gruff acting coach Zandra on Will & Grace. In 2003 director Shawn Levy cast her in a cameo role of a babysitter to Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt’s children in an updated remake of Cheaper by the Dozen. Levy was inspired to cast Brennan after his personal viewing of Private Benjamin on television. Her cameo was deleted from the actual cut of the movie, but she did receive credit for her role on the Deleted Scenes special feature of the film’s DVD. In 2004 she appeared in The Hollow as Joan Van Etten. Her last film work was in 2009’s The Kings of Appletown as Coach’s blind mother (died 2013): “I love meanies, and this goes back to Captain Lewis in Private Benjamin. You know why? Because they have no sense of humor. People who are mean or unkind or rigid – think about it – cannot laugh at themselves. If we can’t laugh at ourselves and the human condition, we’re going to be mean.”