A letter to Bishop Mark Carroll of Wichita

Kyoto, Japan               February 28, 1951

Your Excellency,

 

Father Kapaun and I landed at Po Hong Dong with the 1st Cavalry Division on the morning of July 18, 1950.

 

On the hot days of July and August by the bank of the Naktong River, a G.I. coule come almost any day and find a simplified, home-made altar on the hood of a jeep. There was Father Kapaun saying Mass in the extreme heat almost ready to pass out from the heavy warm garments being worn.

 

He also climbed many a hill and mountain just so he could make some lonely G.I. feel a little better after talking to him.

 

About 35 miles south of the Manchurian border on the 1st day of November, near Unsan, Korea, we were all feeling in deep sorrow at the close of Father’s Mass. We were completely surrounded and everyone knew it. Thinking of our loved ones back home, of ourselves. Would we live to see another daylight again? No one knew, but everyone prayed, and prayed hard, hoping that God would help us out. Little by little the enemy was closing in on us.  We had to do something, but what?  If we could hold out till morning we could get some reinforcements. We couldn’t possibly hold out that long. There were too many of them. Col. Walton, our Battalion Commander, finally gave us the order to withdraw.

 

By 11:00 P.M. that night we were surrounded three times, and had broken through each time. All the while this was going on we became very disorganized. I ran into Father Kapaun as we were withdrawing. About a mile or two down the road Father and I were helping out the Medics with the wounded.  All of a sudden machine-guns, burp guns, and what not, opened up on us. There we were, in the middle of an ambush. That, Sir, was just the beginning of a horrible nightmare. But that is where I also lost contact with Father Kapaun. That night there were 995 dead, missing or wounded ion our 8th Cavalry Regiment alone. Newsweek Magazine came out with an article about what happened that night. The article was entitled “The Halloween Party,” but the battle is well known as ‘Bugle Valley’ to the men who made it out alive.

 

Later on, I tried to locate Father Kapaun. This is what I gathered.

 

Lt. Curry, a medical officer, and a good friend of Father Kapaun, was last seen giving first aid to some wounded men. By his side was Father. One G. I. told them to run, practically screaming at them, but they wouldn’t leave the wounded for anything in the world.

 

I have prayed many times for the safe return of Father Kapaun. The first Mass said at our Battalion by Father Lynch was offered for Father Kapaun, who is still listed as missing in action.

 

I’m sure there are hundreds of G.I.s who will never forget what Father Kapaun has done for them. In their hearts they will always remember how he kept up the G.I.s morale, and most of all how he helped a lot of men to become good Catholics.

 

I’ll never forget him as long as I live.

 

Just another G.I., Respectfully,

 

Pfc Ernest J. Ritter

Father Kapaun’s Christmas Greeting to Sister Euphrasia

Father Kapaun was a prolific letter writer. I think one of his very saintly qualities was his genuine care and concern for others. Often when he would write, he would share words of encouragement as he would relay his own activities to those to whom he was writing. Father Kapaun had the utmost respect for those in the religious life. This included those in the missions. While the school in Pilsen, Kansas was a public school, it was staffed by three religious sisters from the Sisters of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. Their motherhouse was in Wichita, Kansas. The school in Pilsen was a three room school house. The first room held grades kindergarten through 5th grade. The second room held grades 6th through 8th, and the third room held grades nine and ten. The school did not have anything past the sophomore year of high school. Father Kapaun was a good student and had advanced grades on two different occasions. One of his classmates said that Fr. Kapaun often knew things that were going on well before even the teachers knew. If there was a classmate struggling, then Emil would offer to help. This classmate said that Emil would be helping the other student even before the Sisters knew that there was a problem. One dubious note, Father Kapaun’s favorite subject in grade school was Latin. (I say dubious because I struggled with Latin on more than one occasion while in school and I cannot imagine anyone, even a saint, saying that it was their favorite subject in school!).

This is Father Kapaun’s Christmas Greeting to Sister Euphrasia, who was his 9th grade teacher at school in Pilsen, Kansas. This was written when he was studying at the Catholic University of America. Father Kapaun corresponded not only with those back home but also with the many friends that he made throughout his life. We have copies of letters to and from family, friends, classmates and fellow chaplains and missionaries that he met while he was serving in India and Burma.

- Fr. John Hotze

Dear Sister Euphrasia:

I wish to thank you for the lovely Christmas Greeting Card. I see you are still using your gift of art to make others happy, as indeed your card made me happy and brought back pleasant memories.

After attending the University I have begun to realize what a tremendous task it is to be a teacher. Surely God must have a very rich reward for those of you who have dedicated your lives to such a work. I hope and pray that God will never inflict upon me such a task, for it would be calamitous to expect an ungifted person to accept such responsibilities. I am happily convinced that God put me in the class of people who can admire teachers but not hope to imitate them.

Indeed this is a very Happy Christmas. Yesterday the sun was shining brightly – today we have the first snow of the year, and it surely is lovely.

May God continue to bless you, good Sister, and keep you in his loving care.

Father Emil Kapaun
Catholic University

December 26, 1947

Welcome to the Fr. Kapaun Blog

Welcome to our Father Kapaun Blog.  This Blog will be used to help provide information on the life and the hopeful canonization of Father Emil Kapaun.  It will also provide an additional venue for announcements pertinent to Father Kapaun’s cause for sainthood to be made public.  Check back often, we will add more content as we are able.  Feel free to ask questions or make comments.  We will respond as we are able.  Please keep comments and questions pertinent to the topic of Father Kapaun and his canonization.

As this blog unfolds we will provide information on Father Kapaun’s life and also as in this first blog, we will provide some of Father Kapaun’s writings, mainly his letters and homilies.  I will try to keep these writings accurate as to the style and content, thus you will see spelling and grammatical form that would have been popular at the time in history, 1930s through the 1950s.  In this first homily you will notice the spelling of “Savior” as “Saviour.”  There are also some differences in punctuation and grammar.  These would have been homilies that Father Kapaun used in preaching at Mass so some of the punctuation may have been placed there to help him in that delivery.

I hope you enjoy this Blog as I certainly enjoy posting to it.  I think you will be amazed as you begin to see the spirituality of Father Kapaun come through, and hopefully, you will see what a great impact it can have on your life.  I will not comment on Father Kapaun’s writings except to explain some of the elements of our faith that are not commonly known.  Today’s homily was given on Low Sunday, April 16, 1944.  The homily was given at St. John Nepomucene Church in Pilsen, Kansas, this would have been prior to Father Kapaun leaving to serve in World War II.  Low Sunday is the Second Sunday in the octave of Easter.  The Church celebrates Easter as an octave, eight days, Easter then beginning with the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses being of primary importance and ending with the Second Sunday of Easter or Low Sunday.  As many of you know, Low Sunday has now been given the designation of Divine Mercy Sunday.

Thanks for joining us.  Father Kapaun, pray for us.

Fr. John Hotze
Episcopal Delegate
Office for the Beatification of Father Emil Kapaun
hotzej@catholicdioceseofwichita.org

Low Sunday
April 16, 1944

Bring here thy finger, and see My Hands; and bring here thy hand, and put it into My Side, and be not unbelieving, but believing. John 20:27

These words which our Savior spoke were addressed directly to St. Thomas, the Apostle who had been absent when Jesus appeared to the Apostles the first time after his Resurrection.

Saint John, in his Holy Gospel, mentions that the Apostles were in the upper-room, that is, the Last Supper room, and that they had the heavy doors barred so that no one would be able to get in.  The Apostles were afraid of the enemies of Jesus, for they had put Jesus to death, and only naturally those enemies would seek out the Apostles whom Jesus had chosen.  It was already evening.  The Apostles were gathered together in that room behind barred doors, when all of a sudden, Jesus came through the door without opening it, or without breaking it, and He stood before them.  To the Apostles who were at the same time astonished and frightened Jesus said: “Peace be to you.”  Then He showed them His Hands and His Side.  The Apostles rejoiced to have Jesus living with them again.  Jesus said to them again: “Peace be to you.  As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  Then he breathed upon them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”

In this joyful meeting between Jesus and His Apostles, several momentous things had taken place.  First of all, the Apostles knew that no human body would be able to pass normally and naturally through a heavy door which was closed.  In order for such a body to pass normally and naturally through such a door, the door had to be opened or broken.  But here, before them, their very eyes showed them that Jesus had come into the room without opening that heavy door or breaking it down.  At first they must have thought that He was only a spirit, but when He spoke to them and showed them His hands and side, there was no question left but that Jesus had His natural human body.  The Apostles believed that our Saviour stood before them with His natural body even though they could not see how our Saviour could pass through that door with His natural human body.  That was an act of faith which our Saviour demanded of His Apostles.  And connected with that act of faith our Saviour said to them:  “Peace be to you.  As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

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