April 20, 1916 - May 23, 1951
Patron of Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School - Wichita, KS
The Fr. Kapaun Guild will begin hosting monthly Masses to pray for the beatification and canonization of Fr. Kapaun at the Spiritual Life Center. All KMC students, parents and staff are encouraged to attend these monthly Masses. The first Mass will be Wednesday, November 2 at 7:00 pm.
For press releases and other information about the cause of Fr. Kapaun's canonization, click HERE.
Chaplain Emil Kapaun, Servant of God
Lord Jesus, in the midst of the folly of war, your servant, Chaplain Emil Kapaun, spent himself in total service to you on the battlefields and in the prison camps of Korea, until his death at the hands of his captors. We now ask you, Lord Jesus, if it be your will, to make known to all the world the holiness of Chaplain Kapaun and the glory of his complete sacrifice for you by signs of miracles and peace. In your name, Lord, we ask, for you are the source of peace, the strength of our service to others, and our final hope.
Chaplain Kapaun, pray for us.
Army chaplain Emil J. Kapaun, armed during the Korean War only with the love of God, was described by those who served with him as the best and bravest foot soldier they ever knew.
Fr. Kapaun, a Wichita diocesan priest from Pilsen, died in a prison at 35 and was buried somewhere along the Yalu River in North Korea. "If I don't come back, tell my Bishop that I died a happy death," Fr. Kapaun told fellow prisoners as he was carried away to die.
He was honored Saturday, June 2, 2001 at Kapaun Mount Carmel High School, and Sunday, June 3, at Pilsen.
Fr. Kapaun was captured because he refused an order to try to escape through the surrounding enemy after the 8th Cavalry was overwhelmed on Nov. 2, 1950. Fr. Kapaun was seized by the enemy as he administered the last rites to a dying soldier.
He was taken to a POW camp run by the Chinese.
The Story of Chaplain Kapaun, Patriot Priest of the Korean Conflict by Father Arthur Tonne. Published 1954 by Didde Printing Company in Emporia, Kansas. (Currently out of print, but sometimes available at used book stores. Also available at the Chancery office.)
A Shepherd in Combat Boots, Chaplain Emil Kapaun of the 1st Calvary Division by William L. Maher, 1997, by Burd Street Press of Shippensburg, Pa.
Books that contain excerpts about Chaplain Kapaun:
Believed to be Alive by Captain John W. Thornton, 1981, by Paul S. Eriksson, Middlebury, Vt.; Memoir of a Cold War Soldier by Richard E. Mack, 2001, by Kent State University Press.
Editor's note: This is the second half of the article about Father Emil J. Kapaun, a native son of Pilsen, Kan., who died 50 years ago in a North Korean prisoner of war camp. Fr. Kapaun was honored on Saturday, June 2, at his namesake Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School, Wichita, KS. A statue of the hero chaplain was unveiled during a ceremony Sunday, June 3, in Pilsen. (Shown at top of page)
"The night before St. Patrick's Day, Father called us together and prayed to Saint Patrick, asking him to help us in our misery," Lt. Dowe wrote. "The next day, the Chinese brought us a case of liver-the first meat we had had-and issued us golian instead of millet. The liver was spoiled and golian is sorghum seed ... but to us they were like manna. Later he prayed for tobacco, and that night a guard walked by and tossed a little bag of dry, straw-like tobacco into our room."
As the prisoners continued to weaken, the communists intensified their propaganda. The prisoners would sit for hours in lectures while Comrade Sun, a fanatic who intensely hated Americans, assailed capitalism. After the lecture the men would have to comment on "the great truths revealed by Comrade Sun."
By: Maj Allan C. Bevilacqua, USMC (Ret)
At 1330 on 6 May 1942, Lieutenant General Jonathan M. Wainright, USA, commanding the last remaining American and Filipino forces in the Philippines, surrendered the island fortress of Corregidor in Manila Bay to the overwhelming numbers of LtGen Masaharu Homma’s 14th Imperial Japanese Army. Wainright’s men had given their commander everything they had. Pounded relentlessly by massed Japanese artillery and totally unopposed air forces, reduced to a ration of 30 ounces of food per day and less than one canteen cup of water, they had fought heroically against all hope. Finally, there was no hope left.
In his last radio message to his Commander in Chief, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Wainright said: “There is a limit to human endurance, and that point has long been passed.” At the command post of the Fourth Marine Regiment, the island’s primary infantry force, Colonel Samuel L. Howard, the regimental commander, ordered that the national and regimental colors be burned rather than surrendered. Then he and his pitifully under-strength regiment joined the 11,000 prisoners of war marched into Japanese captivity.
Medals depicting the image of Father Emil Kapaun, Servant of God, have been struck and are once again available from the Chancery Office of the Diocese of Wichita. The medals measure three-fourths of an inch in diameter and have eye hooks for a chain. They are available in gold, silver and pewter.
Suggested donations per medal are as follows:
Additional information on the life of Father Kapaun is available on the diocesan website.