Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chaplain (Captain) Father Emil J. Kapaun, Servant of God
Another Shepher in Combat Boots

Thanks to the good folks over at House of Brungardt for reminding me of the story of Father Kapaun. A truly courageous man who was held captive by the heathen Communist Chinese during the Korean War.

Here's just one telling of Fr. Kapaun's incredible story;

Saintly Shepherd

One of the most inspirational stories to emerge from Korean POW camps is that of Catholic priest Emil Kapaun. A decorated hero, Kapaun is credited with helping countless numbers of men survive the horrors of prison life. Now, his supporters hope to see him officially declared a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

A native of Kansas, Kapaun was assigned to the front lines in Korea with a unit from the 1st Cavalry Division. Staying behind to help the wounded when it was overrun, he was captured Nov. 2,1950. He saw a Chinese soldier preparing to shoot a wounded American, so he pushed aside the enemy's rifle and helped the wounded man for the next 100 miles to a prison camp.

In the compound, he washed the men's bandages and picked lice from their bodies. He took care of those who were debilitated by dysentery. Kapaun used a rock to beat scrap metal into a homemade pan and traded his watch for a blanket, using the blanket to make socks for others. Kapaun prayed for guidance to St. Dismas, the Good Thief who was crucified alongside Christ. Thus inspired, he stole food for starving prisoners. At night, he crept into the cornfields or guard huts and returned with corn, potatoes or salt.

On Easter Sunday 1951, the priest conducted a sunrise service. He made a cross from pieces of wood he found. He fashioned a rosary from barbed wire. Neglecting himself, over time, the emaciated clergyman grew weaker. Eventually, he lost the sight of one eye and walked with great difficulty on account of a blood clot lodged in his leg. In May 1951, the Chinese took Kapaun away to die, which he did at Pyotkong on the 23rd at age 35.

Catholic war veterans and others who knew Kapaun hope to persuade the Roman Catholic Church to canonize "the priest in combat boots." Meanwhile, he is permanently remembered in his birthplace of Pilsen, Kan. On June 3, 2001, volunteers dedicated a statue honoring Kapaun at St. John Nepomucene Church.

If you would like more information on Father Kapaun, contact Mike Wescott at Friends of Father Kapaun, mwescott@kapaun.org

4 Comments:

Blogger Anita Moore said...

When it comes to holiness under fire, Catholic priest pack the gear! That's why it's no accident that of the four military chaplains who won the CMH between World War II and Vietnam, 100% were Catholic priests.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

What a beautiful face. You don't see that kind of serene confidence anymore.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Tony-Allen said...

This man really is an inspiration for Christians every where about humility and sacrifice. I am thankful God supplies us with so many men to remind us of this.

12:06 AM  
Blogger WICatholic said...

Update for you...

http://www.cdowk.org/catholic_advance/diocesannews.html#kapaun

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=12940

8:03 AM  

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