Hopes for priest’s canonization kept alive on Father Kapaun Day
Although the canonization of Pilsen native Father Emil Kapaun may be years away, people continue to flock to Pilsen to learn about the man who gave his life to help fellow soldiers in a prisoner of war camp in North Korea.
An annual pilgrimage to Pilsen will begin Thursday in Wichita after a morning Mass and will end at Pilsen in time for a 11 a.m. service Sunday, Father Kapaun Day.
Harriet Bina of Marion said the pilgrimage had been expanded to four days to provide time for hourly stops and sharing of stories at each stop. The group will camp at the Alvin Kroupa farm on K-256/Remington Rd. on Saturday night.
Kapaun was declared Servant of God by the Archdiocese for the Military in 1992. Two commissions were established to study his writings and gather firsthand accounts of his life including his youth, his priesthood, and his service as an Army chaplain.
As more and more was learned about his sacrificial life and as scores of POWs attributed their survival to him, the Wichita Diocese took up the cause.
On June 29, 2008, the case for his canonization officially opened at a special ceremony in Pilsen.
During the next three years, more than 8,000 pages of information about Kapaun were collected, and on July 1, 2011, the diocese formally closed the cause for his beatification at a Mass at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
Scott Carter, coordinator for the Father Kapaun Guild, said the information was reviewed for several years and trimmed to a manageable 1,100 pages. The “positio,” as the final document was called, was delivered Nov. 9, 2015, to the Vatican. It was officially accepted in June 2016.
The positio included documentation of two miracles attributed to Kapaun. Carter said that if one of those miracles is affirmed by the Vatican, Kapaun would be “venerated” as someone worthy of honor for living a life of “heroic virtue.”
If another miracle is forthcoming and affirmed by the Vatican, Kapaun would be “beatified.” After that, it would be left to the Pope to canonize him as a saint.
The Pilsen congregation and Wichita Diocese are impatient, Carter said. They can’t understand why it is taking so long for Kapaun to be venerated.
He did note that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which processes canonization requests, is considering more than 2,000 cases.
Talk of establishing a visitor’s cen
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ter at Pilsen is ongoing, Carter said, but no concrete steps have been taken.
Meanwhile, as people from all over the world continue to stream to the little town, more and more people are seeking Father Kapaun’s interception for help with their problems, and more miracles are being reported. In their eyes, Kapaun always has been a saint.
American Legion Riders will stop at Pilsen at 11:30 a.m. June 7 during their fourth annual Legacy Run to lay a wreath at the Father Kapaun Memorial.