On July 28th 1981, a missionary priest named Father Stanley Rother was murdered in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. After conflicting reports about how he died, KTVYs Larry Audas and Darrel Barton travel to Guatemala to try and uncover the truth about his murder.
Father Stanley Rother had been working as a missionary priest in Santiago for 12 years. It was a place he called home, he knew the villages well, and they knew him. But tragedy struck when three assassins broke into the refectory next to the church where he lived and murdered him in the night.
The horror of the tragedy is revealed through an interview with the only witness. His life is in such serious danger because of what he knows that he has been forced into hiding. “They seized me, they told me I had to take them to him. I said, ‘Father, theyre looking for you’. I heard two shots, and thats when the father died.”
As Audas and Barton investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder it becomes evident that something is being covered up. Almost all who worked for Father Rother have been murdered. Was the Guatemalan government unhappy with the message he was teaching?
But Father Rother’s murder is only a part of the terror facing this village. Over a year ago Guatemalan soldiers set up camp in the village and soldiers with machine guns began arresting the men. Now there are more than 30 widows and dozens of orphans. The village has become a victim to violence. In spite of this, the villagers in Santiago still meet to listen to the catechists spreading Father Rother’s message. They risk a lot, but perhaps this is the way Christians met 2000 years ago. Murder and terror are not enough to kill a faith.