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On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, the six Historical Consultants of the Congregation for Saints met in Rome to discuss the historical documents that have been presented to the Congregation as part of the Positio for the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of Father Emil Kapaun, prepared by the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!

pdf Fr. Kapaun's Funeral Mass Homily (3.91 MB)

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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Praying for the Persecutors of the Church

Tucked away at the front of Father Kapaun's Liturgical Rite book is a small leaflet from the Apostleship of Prayer inviting people to join with the Holy Father's prayer intentions for the month.  This one is for November 1939, shortly after World War II had started.  In it, we can see a glimpse of the teachings that formed Father Kapaun and prepared him for his future mission in the Prison Camps of Korea.

"General Intention for November, 1939

Recommended by His Holiness, Pope Pius XII

FOR THE PERSECUTORS OF GOD'S HOLY CHURCH

Former General Intentions bade us take up the arms of prayer against false doctrines and their baneful effects.  Then we prayed that mankind be delivered from the evils of the new paganism.  Now we would use these same spiritual weapons to safeguard the authors of these evils against God's just anger.  Thus we would obey our Divine Lord's injunction: 'Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you.'  Let us re-echo our dying Saviour's prayer: 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'

Like her Divine Founder, the Church wishes not the death of the sinner but rather that he be converted and live, not the execution of the persecutor but that like Saul he, being converted, may become another Paul lovingly to proclaim Christ and His Mystical Body.  The enemies of Christ and His Church disseminate hatred and disunion; the Church, like Christ, would unite all men in fraternal charity as sons and daughters of the one Heavenly Father.

 

If the spirit of Christ be in us as true sons and daughters of His Church, such will be not only our prayer but also our every thought, word, and deed towards all, especially to those who hate and persecute us."

 

The Apostleship of Prayer still promotes the Holy Father's intentions and offers reflections on them: www.apostleshipofprayer.org 

Letter from Bishop Carroll

January 12th is the anniversary of Bishop Mark Carroll's death.  Bishop Carroll was Father Kapaun's Bishop and allowed him to re-enter the military service.  Father Kapaun kept up regular correspondence with his bishop, and here is one of the letters that Bishop Carroll wrote.  As you can see, Bishop Carroll was promoting Father Kapaun's witness even while he was still alive!

Letter from pdf Bishop Carroll to Father Kapaun (1.47 MB)

Christmas Thoughts

I often wonder what was going through the POW's minds that first Christmas after they had been captured. Some would have made it to the Prison Camp, others were still being marched to the there. I wonder if the reality of the situation had set in yet. I am sure many were still hoping for the promised end of the war that

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Comments on the Positio Presentation

By Father John Hotze

As you may have heard, on Nov. 9, 2015, Bishop Kemme presented the positio to the Congregation for Saints in Rome. The positio is the Church’s official document concerning Father Kapaun’s life of heroic virtue and sanctity. Now, the Congregation for Saints can begin their work on the review of Father Kapaun’s life. Hopefully, the Congregation may then make a recommendation affirming his sanctity to the Holy Father.

Unfortunately, some of the news reports have implied that we are disappointed by the outcome of the events or that the case has been placed on hold. We at the Office for Beatification of Father Kapaun are by no means disappointed or discouraged by the events of the last couple of weeks. Granted, it would have been nice if the Congregation for Saints was able to drop everything to study Father Kapaun’s Cause immediately, but unfortunately, that is not a possibility.

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