Fr. Emil J. Kapaun memorial statue approved for Kansas State Capitol

On March 22, 2024, Governor Laura Kelly approved and signed Kansas Bill 431, directing the capitol preservation committee to place a permanent memorial in the Kansas capitol building honoring Servant of God Emil Joseph Kapaun. The bill passed through both chambers of the Kansas Legislature with unanimous votes.  Senator Chase Blasi, who carried the bill in the Senate, approached the Diocese of Wichita with the idea of the bill.  The Diocese is thrilled to witness the desire of the people of Kansas to honor one of her own priests, and we are happy to be a part of the many individuals and organizations who will contribute to the memorial of Fr. Kapaun at the statehouse in Topeka.

Father Emil Kapaun served as a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita and as a U.S. Army chaplain in World War II and the Korean War. In Korea, he was known for risking his life on the battlefield to minister to the troops on the front lines. Fr. Kapaun was captured as a prisoner of war in November of 1950, enduring a brutal captivity where he nonetheless continued to serve those imprisoned with him. He died in the prison camp on May 23, 1951, but his remains were not identified after the war. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2013 for his heroic actions on the battlefield.

After much research, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) miraculously identified his remains among the hundreds of unidentified Korean War remains buried in the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii on March 4, 2021.

Father Kapaun’s mortal remains were brought back home to Kansas at the end of September 2021 and given a resting place in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.

Bill 431 establishes an Emil Joseph Kapaun Memorial Fund that would then finance the creation and construction of a memorial to Fr. Kapaun in the state capitol. The construction of a statue of Fr. Kapaun at the Kansas State Capitol would not only pay tribute to a hero who exemplified the values we honor as a State, but also the virtue and holiness of life that we think makes him a worthy candidate to be named a Saint.

For more information on Fr. Kapaun’s story and Cause for Canonization please visit