Diocese in its 15th year working for Fr. Kapaun’s cause
Scott Carter: Holy Spirit working in the cause
Scott Carter, the coordinator of the Father Kapaun Guild, said he is amazed by how much has changed in the 15 years since the cause opened.
“I know a lot of times it doesn’t feel like there’s been as much progress as people may have expected, but I think it is to be expected because it takes a long time to do this,” he said.
“I think the Holy Spirit is at work through the life of Father Kapaun. It’s amazing to see how many more people have been interested in the cause or praying to him and have been touched by favors or even potential miracles. So I think in that sense, the work that we’ve been doing for the cause and Rome is bearing fruit because it’s inspiring, hopefully, more people to be saints as well.”
By Fr. John Hotze
Fifteen years ago, on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 2008, the Diocese of Wichita formally began our work towards Father Emil J. Kapaun’s Cause for Canonization.
Although Father Kapaun was named a Servant of God in 1993, not much work was able to be advanced at the time; our priests and faithful felt it was time to continue to pursue this noble effort.
Bishop Michael O. Jackels celebrated the opening Mass at Father Kapaun’s home church, Saint John Nepomucene in Pilsen, Kansas, packed with people.
Bishop Jackels makes appointments
After the Mass, Bishop Jackels appointed myself and 11 other faithful of the Diocese – both priests and lay persons – to work on the cause. We took oaths of fidelity to the truth, no matter what the investigation would find. Father Kapaun’s brother and sister-in-law, Eugene and Helen Kapaun, were present with their support.
This marked the beginning of three years of work which comprised the diocesan phase of the canonization process.
Closing Mass in 2011
On July 1, 2011, Bishop Jackels would celebrate the closing Mass of the diocesan phase at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. The process amassed thousands of pages of documents to send to the Congregation for Saints for consideration of Father Kapaun’s canonization.
Today, fifteen years after the opening Mass we anxiously await the Dicastery of Saints determination that Father Kapaun should be granted the title “Venerable.” We are often quick to wonder why we must wait so long, including myself.
But this week I was kind of taken aback when I realized it has only been 15 years. In the scheme of eternity these 15 years does not even equal a drop in the bucket. When we speak of sainthood, we are talking about eternity.
Yesterday we celebrated Saints Peter and Paul who lived 2,000 years ago. How many times have saints who lived two centuries ago provided an example for us through their actions or their written word? How many times have they brought us closer to God or increased our faith? Too many times to count! The same can be true of Father Kapaun.
Lives have been touched
Despite the immense amount of work that went into the investigation, and the time that has past, I no longer think of the thousands of pages of documents that we sent to Rome. Rather I think of the thousands of lives that have already been changed by the work and example that Father Kapaun provides us.
Consider with me for a moment. In these 15 years because of our work:
• Countless individuals have come to know of this holy priest, not only around the United States, but around the world.
• Hundreds of thousands (maybe even a million) prayer cards have been distributed all over the world, and groups of people pray for one another’s needs. Think of the number of prayers have reached the ears of God in the name of Father Kapaun!
• The efforts of Father Kapaun’s fellow POWs and soldiers have come to fruition as Father Kapaun’s heroism on the battlefield was recognized with the awarding of the Medal of Honor in 2013.
• Father Kapaun has accompanied thousands of active-duty service men and women as they went into battle, giving them comfort and strength.
• Chaplains of every branch of the service learn at their training of Father Kapaun’s ability to lead his fellow soldiers in the most difficult of times.
• Thousands of men and women have gained strength and courage through the work of Kapaun’s Men groups and their great video content.
• Thousands have walked the 60-mile pilgrimage to Father Kapaun’s hometown, entering more fully into his life and sacrifices in a unique way along the “Kansas Camino.”
• Teachers across the country have taught their students about Father Kapaun’s virtue and sacrifice.
• Collaborating with the U.S. Army, we were able to give Father Kapaun a proper homecoming and celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial when his remains returned to the Diocese of Wichita in 2021.
• Countless pilgrims have come to visit the Father Kapaun Museum in Pilsen and to pray at Father Kapaun’s tomb.
• Hundreds of people have shared of favors granted through Father Kapaun’s intercession, and at least a dozen have shared of alleged miracles that have changed their lives.
• Men and women continue to learn of the virtues Father Kapaun lived every day. Through his example and intercession, they realize that they too can live these same virtues and learn to love as Father Kapaun loved – the love Christ demonstrated as he laid down his life for our salvation. We truly are witnessing the work of God in our midst.
So yes, we continue to wait for official word from Rome, but I think in the meantime perhaps we need to realize the joy of being part of God’s plan of salvation.
But I also ask: How many more people can we help reach God’s Kingdom through Father Kapaun’s example and intercession?
Our role now, as Cardinal Amato told us several years ago, is to continue to pray and share Father Kapaun’s story.
When Father Kapaun was captured, hundreds in his hometown, across the diocese, and in his unit were praying for his release. To some, it might have appeared that their prayers were not answered, but I like to think that maybe God used those prayers in a different way. Maybe it was those prayers that helped Father Kapaun continue to do his work. Maybe it was those prayers that helped him be a saint.
More prayers needed
Maybe it is our prayers that help Father Kapaun do his work to this day.
Please consider adding the prayer for Father Kapaun’s cause to your daily prayer routine. It only takes a few moments, but it is perhaps the best thing we can do for the cause. See below, or request us to send a prayer card to you.
Likewise, the more people with whom we can share Father Kapaun’s story, the better. We would be happy to send you some prayer cards and booklets to help you share the story, or you can direct them to our website.
Finally, if you are close or are able to make a trip, continue to visit Father Kapaun’s tomb to pray. I am encouraged whenever I am at the Cathedral to see how many people stop by to say hello to Father and ask his intercession. His earthly remains are a special and powerful place to encounter the Servant of God.
Likewise, plan a visit to Pilsen, or consider joining us for the upcoming Palm Sunday weekend retreat next year. All of this will help keep Father Kapaun’s story active and alive in your hearts.
Servant of God Emil Kapaun, pray for us!
Fr. Hotze is the episcopal delegate for Father Kapaun’s cause for beatification.