Wisconsin martyr recognized

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Br. James Miller, who was born in 1944 in Wisconsin and shot to death in Guatemala in 1982, has been recognized as a martyr by the Vatican and will be beatified. He is pictured in this image courtesy of the Christian Brothers of the Midwest. (CNS photo/courtesy Christian Brothers of the Midwest)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of De La Salle Christian Br. James Miller, who was born in Wisconsin and was shot to death in Guatemala in 1982.

The recognition of the martyrdom of Br. James, or Br. Santiago as he also was known, clears the way for his beatification; the date and location of the ceremony were not immediately announced.

Br. Miller was born Sept. 21, 1944, in Stevens Point. He met the Christian Brothers at Pacelli High School there and, at the age of 15, entered the order’s juniorate in Missouri.

After the novitiate, he taught Spanish, English and religion at Cretin High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, for three years. He also was in charge of school maintenance and served as the football coach.

In 1969, he was sent to Nicaragua, where he taught and helped build schools.

According to the De La Salle Brother’s website, “His religious superiors ordered him to leave Nicaragua in July 1979 during the time of the Sandinista revolution. It was feared that since he worked for the Somoza government, he might be at risk.”

Returning to the United States, he again taught at Cretin High School. But in January 1981, he was sent to Guatemala, where he taught at a secondary school in Huehuetenango and at a center that helped young indigenous people learn job and leadership skills.

While on a ladder making repairs to the building on the afternoon of Feb. 13, 1982, he was shot several times by three hooded men and died instantly. No one was ever arrested for his murder. Funeral services were held in Guatemala and in St. Paul before he was buried in Polonia.

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