In person: Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

On inspiration for priests:
“(Father Rother) had a very ordinary upbringing: He lived on a farm, he worked hard, close to his family, involved in his parish, went to Catholic school, did his chores and surprised everyone when he declared that he was going to seminary. But then after that, one of the things that I think young people, and anybody, maybe priests in particular, take from his life was that he really did struggle in seminary. That’s probably going to be a consolation to many of our seminarians who read about his life and learn how much he struggled. ... He did not succeed in his first attempt. He was invited to leave his first seminary because he couldn’t pass the Latin requirement that was then so much the foundation of seminary education and formation. But even in the face of that unexpected news and great disappointment, he didn’t give up. He had a strong sense that the Lord was calling him, and he saw an opportunity to continue ... and he went to a new seminary where he applied himself ... and succeeded. His determination, his hard work, his willingness to persevere in the face of obstacles — those are things that I think we can all benefit from reflecting upon in terms of how do we deal with obstacles when they come our way — and they will in every vocation.”

On discipleship:
“Facing danger, Father Rother overcame his own fears because of the love that he had for his people and chose to remain with them knowing full well that it would likely cost him his life, which it did, but because of the love of Christ that was so much alive in his heart, he was able to embrace that sacrifice and embrace that cross and brought his life to such a beautiful fulfillment by the sacrifice. Love always demands sacrifice, and he was invited to make that supreme sacrifice of his life. He knew what the cost of discipleship would be for him, and yet he accepted that.”

On family life:
“Faith, prayer were the very fabric of the life of (Blessed Stanley’s) family and household. Every evening they would kneel after dinner and pray the Rosary, whether the kids wanted to or not, and I’m sure there were some days they would have preferred to do something else. ... So it was who they are — that is, they were Catholic. Faith had been such a normal part of life. It wasn’t something added on, it wasn’t something compartmentalized, it was the very fabric and stuff of their home life, and I think that is something we can learn.”

On his witness:
“I think everybody can take something from (Blessed Stanley), because he’s kind of an ‘everyman saint,’ the way I find him — very attractive, very approachable, nothing esoteric about him. He was just a real man. So I think that’s a beautiful witness. I think it’s a tremendous witness for priests. We need heroic priests. We really needed this, I think — a heroic priest-martyr from the United States, that we can all look to, learn from, strive to imitate his virtue and to seek his intercession.”

On a personal note:
“As a young seminarian, as a young priest ... he represented for me a certain ideal of priestly dedication and service, courage that inspired me. The first thing I did when I learned I had been appointed the next archbishop of Oklahoma City, even before it had been publicly announced, was to make a road trip ... to Okarche to visit the parish where Father Rother had been baptized and raised, to visit his grave and to really intentionally trust my ministry to him and to seek his intercession. So it’s been a remarkable thing for so many years. It’s thrilling, it’s just a great source of joy for me personally.”

Gretchen R. Crowe is editor-in-chief of OSV Newsweekly and author/editor of “Why the Rosary, Why Now?” (OSV, $14.95).