New Birth

 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you." - 1 Peter 1:3-4

Just a month ago I was able to travel to North and South Carolina to interview Bill Richardson and William Funchess.  Both were Korean War POWs.  Bill knew Fr. Kapaun from fighting in the same battalion, but was separated from him in the prison camp.  William did not fight with Fr. Kapaun, but met him in the prison camp and ended up sleeping next to him and caring for him the last few weeks of his life.  

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Nanami's Flight

                Recently I’ve been getting a number of requests for information about Father Kapaun from all over the world.  I don’t know for sure what has been prompting these requests, but it is exciting to see Father Kapaun’s story spreading.  This week, however, I received a letter from England that was different.  Instead of asking for more information, it was a woman named Nanami who was sharing her story of surviving the Korean War.  She had recently heard about Father Kapaun for the first time, and his story had a profound impact on her, although she has quite the story in her own right, which I’d like to share.

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Icons Impact Radio Interview

Father Hotze did an interview on Father Kapaun this past week for Icons Impact, a radio show for Relevant Radio in New York. The show is hosted by two of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), Brother Angelus and Father Innocent who were actually classmates of mine for a few years in elementary school here in Wichita. The interview is 28 minutes and does a great listen!

Right click here to download

Learn more about the Friars and their Icons mission here: http://www.iconsmedia.org/

Missing the Miracles

Missing the Miracles?
By Scott Carter

Recently I have been getting an increasing number of questions from people wondering how strict the requirement for miracles is in regard to the canonization of saints.  When talking to them, they seem to have a suspicion that for some reason Father Kapaun has been singled out for unnecessary requirements.  (I picture a cartoon with Saint Peter saying to Father Kapaun, “Please stand over here, Sir,” while with his other hand he vigorously waves all sorts of other people through the pearly gates without even a cursory glance.)  I assure you this isn’t the case!

In reality, I can understand why people might think this, and it stems from two things.  First, Pope Francis has recently canonized two saints without the requirement of a second miracle (John XXIII and Peter Faber).  However, both of these were special cases and previously had one miracle approved for their Beatification.  The Church takes very seriously her requirement for miracles before declaring definitively that someone is in heaven with God.  That’s because while we can examine a person’s life to the best of our abilities, only the Lord sees the heart and truly knows the holiness of a man or woman (cf. 1 Samuel 16:7).  Although a miracle is granted primarily for the sake of the person it blesses, it also acts like a supernatural stamp of approval from God that the intercessor is indeed in heaven with Him.

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Fr. Kapaun Cause for Canonization Takes Important Step Forward

By Fr. John Hotze

On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, the six Historical Consultants of the Congregation for Saints met in Rome to discuss the historical documents that have been presented to the Congregation as part of the Positio for the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of Father Emil Kapaun, prepared by the Postulator Dr. Andrea Ambrosi.  After evaluating the documents for completeness and accuracy, the Historical Consultants gave an affirmative vote in regard to these documents.  As a reminder, the Positio is the official document that will be used to determine if Father Kapaun lived a life of heroic virtue and sanctity.  Bishop Carl A. Kemme presented this Positio to Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for Saints on November 9, 2015.
 
The affirmative vote by the Historical Consultants allows Father Kapaun’s Cause to move forward to the Theological Consultants.  These Consultants will review the Positio to determine if Father Kapaun’s writings and teachings are doctrinally sound and in harmony with the Church’s teachings.  If the Theological Consultants also provide an affirmative vote, the matter will be given to a panel of Cardinals and Archbishops of the Congregation for Saints.  This panel will convene to review Father Kapaun’s life one final time.  Hopefully they will come to a consensus and decide to pass Father Kapaun’s Cause on to the Holy Father who will make the ultimate decision on Father Kapaun’s Beatification and Canonization.
 
As the review of Father Kapaun’s life continues, medical consultants in the Congregation will be working on the proof of alleged miracles.  One alleged miracle must be approved and accepted as having no scientific explanation for the Beatification; and, then a second miracle approved and accepted for the Canonization of Father Kapaun.  To some, this may seem like an unending process, but the naming of a Saint has never and, hopefully, will never be taken lightly.  We pray that, God willing, Father Kapaun’s cause may proceed with speed and that we will soon be honoring him as a Saint of the Holy Catholic Church.

 "This news cannot be perceived as anything but a great sign," said Fr. John Hotze, Episcopal Delegate of the Office of Canonization of Father Emil Kapaun. "This is a great step forward and recognition of the work we've done and of the life of Father Kapaun, and has happened much more quickly than I had anticipated."

Habitual Mercy

By Fr. John Hotze

On December 8, 2015, Pope Francis called for the opening of a Holy Year, the Year of Mercy.  The celebration of the Year of Father Kapaun coincides perfectly with the celebration of the Year of Mercy.  When you study the life of Father Kapaun, you see God’s mercy being put into action.  Father Kapaun not only makes visible God’s mercy but also demonstrates that mercy in a way that we can follow.  Hopefully in following his example we too will become saints.  

While investigating the life of Father Kapaun, I was fortunate to speak to a man, Philip O’Brien.  Mr. O’Brien worked for the Department of Defense.  It was his job to try to identify the 1,600 men that died in Prison Camp No. 5 during the Korean War.  In his efforts, he interviewed as many men that were in the Prison Camp that he could find.  In these interviews, the former POW’s told their stories of being in the Prison Camp.  It was during these interviews that he not only came to know of Father Kapaun but also how he came to believe that Father Kapaun was a saint.  

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65th Anniversary of Fr. Kapaun's Death

Today marks the 65th Anniversary of Fr. Kapaun's Death on May 23rd in Camp Number 5, Pyoktong, North Korea.  Bishop Mark Carroll celebrated his funeral Mass on July 29, 1953 after prisoners were released and his death was confirmed.  The Mass was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita and was attended by over 100 priests and hundreds more of the faithful.  Below is Bishop Carroll's homily from the Mass.  You may notice that the Army had originally reported the date of death as May 6th, but that was soon corrected by his fellow Prisoners of War.  Some of his last words were "Don't worry about me, I'm going where I always wanted to go, and when I get there I'll say a prayer for all of you," and "Tell my Bishop I died a happy death."  

May Father Kapaun rest in peace and assist us from heaven!

Fr. Kapaun's Funeral Mass Homily

Fr. Kapaun Face of Christ's Mercy Poster Contest

A big thank you to the many students who participated in our poster contest for the Year of Father Kapaun and the Year of Mercy!  We had over 1000 entries- probably a lot more, but too many to count!  It was great to see the creativity and artistic ability of the students in the Diocese!  We had a difficult time choosing the winners, so we let the everyone in the Chancery Office vote.  Here are the top three from each category:

Kindergarten - 2nd Grade:

First Place: Luke from St. Catherine of Siena, Wichita

Second Place: Grace from St. Mary, Ft. Scott

 

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Palm Sunday Homily by Father Kapaun

From Father John Hotze:

I have been remiss in sharing Father Kapaun with you. I hope this makes up for it. While it is not yet Palm Sunday, this can help us make a good Lent. Father Kapaun gives us much to ponder.

Father Kapaun Homily for Palm Sunday – We do not have the date but it was among other homilies that were given in Pilsen between 1940 and 1942.

“Pages and pages have been written concerning the character of our Lord, Jesus Christ. But in order to learn the real character of Christ, a person need not read through all that has been written on Christ -- there is one book which has an infinite store of knowledge in it - - and that book is the Crucifix upon which is seen Christ crucified. To the humble and loving soul who gazes at the Crucifix with great devotion, comes forth the inviting thought: 'Follow Me - I am the way, the truth, and the life.' the thought repeats itself - - ' Follow Me.' And immediately the soul tends to strive to picture Christ before he offered Himself on the Cross. Just a few days previous to His most cruel death, Jesus had entered Jerusalem in a very honorable way. The joyous cry of the people: 'Hosanna to the Son of David' filled the air. Jesus was universally acclaimed, except by his enemies. Rejoicing was great. But still the Holy Gospel tells us 'Behold thy King cometh to the meek.'

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The Face of Mercy

“Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy,” says Pope Francis in his letter on the Year of Mercy. “Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person reveals the mercy of God.”

In a world that is not always kind and merciful, it is often the witness of a true disciple that makes the face of Christ visible.

This is exactly what Father Kapaun sought to be in the prisoner of war camp. In the hellish conditions they lived in, it was easy for men to become discouraged at the cruelty and negligence they experienced. The face of evil was much easier to see.

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