May Bl. Stanley Rother Inspire Local Vocations

May Bl. Stanley Rother Inspire Local Vocations

On Fri., Feb. 17, I was privileged to be part of the Mass for the Dedication of the Church and Altar at the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine in Oklahoma City, OK.
Blessed Stanley was born in Okarche, OK, about 45 minutes northwest of Oklahoma City. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 1963, and murdered at the age of 46 in the rectory of his parish in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, on July 28, 1981. He is the first recognized martyr from the United States and the first priest born in the US to be beatified (Sept. 23, 2017).
Raised on a farm, Bl. Stanley was well suited to the people of his rural parishes in Guatemala, where he helped to build an irrigation system, created a farmer’s Co-op, taught new farming techniques, and even helped to build a hospital and a radio station. Long before Pope Francis coined the phrase, Bl. Stanley had the “smell of the sheep.”
During the long Civil war in Guatemala, he sought justice for his people, as many of his parishioners were kidnapped and killed. Eventually the violence came to him, as his name appeared on a death list. He did return to Oklahoma but did not stay long. He believed that he should be with his people, and he is known for his famous words, “The shepherd does not run at the first sign of danger.”
He returned to his mission church in Guatemala just before Holy Week of 1981, and within a couple of months, on the early morning of July 28th, 1981, three gunmen entered the rectory, fought with Blessed Stanley, and murdered him. His body was returned to Oklahoma and is now interred in the Chapel at the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine, while his heart remained in Guatemala and is encased in a small shrine inside Saint James the Apostle Catholic Church, where he served.
“Blessed Stanley Rother is such an attractive role model, a faithful witness and powerful intercessor in our midst,” said Abp. Paul S. Coakley, the Archbishop of Oklahoma City, at the blessing and dedication of the shrine. “I pray his witness will inspire many young men to be open to God’s call to the priesthood and prompt all people of faith to realize their baptismal promise and call to holiness.”
Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine Church is the largest Catholic Church in Oklahoma, seating 2,000. The Chapel, where his body is entombed, seats 162. The parish complex also has a Pilgrim Center\Museum and a designated area, “Tepeyac Hill,” 50-feet high, which highlights a 12-foot statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a 6-foot statue of St. Juan Diego, recalling the occasion when Mary appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec convert to Christianity.
As evidenced by the title “Blessed,” a verified miracle is still required for Bl. Stanley to become a saint. And, in the 400 year history in his Guatemalan parishes, there were no vocations to the priesthood. However, since his death, the seminaries are full. As our own diocese strives to reach our goal of “25 by 25,” let us ask the intercession of Bl. Stanley Rother.
I was privileged to offer my morning Holy Hour in the Blessed Stanley Chapel, where his body is interred. I kissed the altar where his body is enshrined and I lit a candle for the intentions of the people of the Diocese of Springfield— Cape Girardeau. May Bl. Stanley bless our diocese with an abundance of holy vocations to the priesthood and religious life to serve the people of southern Missouri. And so we pray: Blessed Stanley Rother, pray for us!

Published in the March 03, 2023 issue of The Mirror.

Bishop Edward Rice Issues St. Patrick’s Day Dispensation 

Bishop Edward Rice Issues St. Patrick’s Day Dispensation 

Bishop Edward Rice issues St. Patrick’s Day dispensation 


Given the penitential nature of the Season of Lent, the Bishops of the United States have preserved in our dioceses the tradition of abstinence from meat on each of the Fridays of Lent, “confident that no Catholic Christian will lightly hold himself excused from this penitential practice” (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Statement, Nov. 18, 1966, n. 13).

The law of abstinence binds those Catholics who have completed the 14th year of their age (can. 1252).

In 2023, the Memorial of Saint Patrick falls on Fri., March 17, 2023, during the Third of Lent. It is well-known that Saint Patrick’s Day is a day of celebration for many American Catholics.

Bishop Edward M. Rice, therefore, decrees that on Fri., March 17, 2023, all Catholics of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, no matter where they may be, are, by his authority, dispensed from the obligation (can. 87 $1).

It is not required that anyone make use of this dispensation. However, those who do wish to make use of it are requested to pray the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

—The Most Rev. Edward M. Rice

Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau

The Cross is the Greatest Sign of Love

The Cross is the Greatest Sign of Love

“Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return!”

 Lent is right around the corner, and as we anticipate Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, it’s good to have a plan on how you want your Lent to unfold. The traditional areas of prayer, fasting, and charity are the pillars of the 40 days, but what is the foundation of Lent? I would ask you to see the upcoming 40 days as an invitation to a deeper foundation of love culminating in the greatest sign of love—the Cross!

I’ve often preached that of all the words we can use to describe what we see gazing on a crucifix —be it suffering, pain, sacrifice—if we do not understand the Cross in terms of love, then we have failed to proclaim the Good News! Therefore, any prayer, fasting or charity should be an expression of that love of Christ on the Cross. Any prayer I may choose during Lent: additional Masses during the week, Friday Stations of the Cross, the family rosary, or time committed to Scripture reading or Adoration, should all flow from and lead to a greater love of Jesus. If it is looked upon as a burden and not an opportunity, such is not the right attitude.

In fasting, “giving up” favorite foods, TV or social media, or consumerism, the goal should be developing a deeper, sacred hunger for union with the Lord. By turning off the television or social media, I might immediately experience “silence,” which can make one feel uncomfortable. Silence forces us to “disconnect” in order to “connect” to Jesus. But, if it is looked upon as a burden and not an opportunity, such is not the right attitude.

In works of charity, such as the Rice Bowl, our Lenten Youth Mission of Mercy, or other ways to donate one’s time, talent, or treasure, the goal should be a more authentic love of Christ shown toward the neighbor in need. This year, the Lenten Youth Mission of Mercy will support the Stockton Area Ministerial Alliance (SAMA), in Stockton, MO. In Cedar County, 18.5% of the population is below the poverty line, which is higher than the state average. Over 11% of that population are military veterans. I encourage adults to support the Rice Bowl Program and I ask all of our schools and PSR programs to support the Lenten Youth Mission of Mercy. But again: if this is looked upon as a burden and not an opportunity, such is not the right attitude.


Please make note of the Lenten regulations. Catholics over 14 years of age are obliged to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent. On such days of abstinence, meat may not be used at all. Catholics over ages 18 to 60 years old are bound to the obligation of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On these days, only one full meatless meal is allowed with two smaller, meatless snacks, sufficient to maintain strength, taken according to each one’s needs. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids are. Looking ahead, I note that March 17, a Friday of Lent, is also St. Patrick’s Day, a day of celebration for all things Irish! If desired, I offer the faithful a dispensation for meat, requesting in its exchange the praying of the 5th Sorrowful decade of the Rosary, the Crucifixion, for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life for our diocese.

The Lenten Season invites us to a deeper walk with the Lord. By planning ahead and making practical decisions on how you want your Lent to unfold, you can take better advantage of this season. It is not 40 days to lose weight or get in better physical shape. It is not 40 days of guilt for not keeping resolutions. The ashes that will mark our foreheads on Ash Wednesday are a physical reminder that we are sinners in need of God’s mercy; we are frail, on a pilgrimage to our eternal home. The Cross, the symbol of total, unconditional love, awaits us at the end of our 40-day journey and ultimately the Cross will greet us at the end of life where we will share in the victory of life over death—all through the Cross, the greatest sign of love. It may sound odd, but I hope everyone has a “happy” Lent!

Published in the February 17, 2023 issue of The Mirror.