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First chapel in Oklahoma dedicated to Blessed Stanley Rother

OKARCHE – Surrounded by residents and staff members of the Center of Family Love, Archbishop Coakley celebrated the dedication of Oklahoma’s first chapel to be named in honor of Blessed Stanley Rother.

Blessed Stanley, a native of Okarche, was beatified on Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City.

“The Blessed Stanley Rother Chapel at the Center of Family Love is a fitting tribute to our Oklahoma shepherd who heroically gave his life for his flock and provided an example of pastoral charity to all of God’s people. May this place of prayer and worship provide comfort, celebration and community for generations to come,” Archbishop Coakley said.  

The chapel, located at the Center of Family Love will serve the 130 developmentally disabled adults who live at the center as well as their families, friends and the community. The dedication marks a major milestone for the organization that was founded in 1981 by members of the Oklahoma Knights of Columbus, some of whom are related to Blessed Stanley.

“At the Center of Family Love, we do not believe it is a coincidence that our organization was founded the same year Father Stan was martyred,” said Harold Wittrock, co-founder of the Center of Family Love and first cousin and dear friend of Blessed Stanley.

Since opening 36 years ago, the Center of Family Love has empowered hundreds of adults, throughout the state who live with intellectual and physical disabilities to be able to enjoy productive and meaningful lives. Their disabilities include cerebral palsy, autism, traumatic brain injury, muscular dystrophy and numerous genetic disorders.

The center is the only faith-based organization in Oklahoma that provides specialized residential care with innovative educational approaches along with skilled vocational programs in central Oklahoma, including Okarche, Kingfisher and El Reno.

“This is truly a dream come true to have a beautiful place where our residents, their families and the community can come together to worship God and celebrate the Holy Mass each week. It is such a blessing to be able to honor and remember the mission of Blessed Stanley Rother who gave his life serving those less fortunate,” said Debbie Espinosa, chief executive of the center.

The dedication Mass was celebrated Dec. 21 at the center.