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Beatification Mass Saturday For Oklahoma Catholic Priest

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

A Catholic mass took place in Oklahoma City Saturday to beatify an Oklahoma-born priest killed during Guatemala's civil war.

Father Stanley Rother  was born in Okarche, and died in 1981. He was one of several Roman Catholic priests who were killed in the war.

His parish was in Tulsa.

Choirs sang hymns in English and Spanish as thousands crowded into an Oklahoma City convention center for the ceremony. The church asked parishioners not to save seats as lines wrapped around the outside of the building. Some people were turned away.

9/22/2017 Related Story: Former Tulsa Priest On Track To Become Oklahoma's First Saint

Pope Francis declared Rother a martyr in December 2016.

Beatification is a step toward potential sainthood.

"If you are someone who died, who spilt their blood for the faith, then that in itself was a step toward sainthood," said Father M. Price Oswalt with the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

This is only the second beatification held in the United States.

Regular candidates for beatification need a Vatican-certified miracle attributed to their intercession, but the church has made an exception for martyrs. A miracle is still necessary to be declared a saint.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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