Remains of Fr. Emil Kapaun return to Kansas

Updated: Sep. 25, 2021 at 8:30 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Hundreds of people gathered Saturday in Wichita and Pilsen, Kan., to welcome home Fr. Emil Kapaun. When Fr. Kapaun returned to Kansas, a procession left from Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita to his hometown of Pilsen, about one hour and 20 minutes from Wichita, in Marion County. In Wichita, events for Fr. Kapaun include a vigil and rosary mass Tuesday, Sept. 28, at Hartman Arena. The funeral will be Wednesday, Sept. 29, also at Hartman Arena. You can read the schedule for services and plans with Fr. Kapaun’s final resting place here: Vigils and funeral for Fr. Kapaun.

The Catholic priest served as an Army chaplain during World War II and the Korean War. He was a prisoner of war in Korea in 1951 and ministered to other soldiers until his death in May of that same year.

In March, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency identified Kapaun’s remains, concluding after extensive research that he was among the unidentified soldiers buried in the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. In 2013, Kapaun was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Unsan.

In 1993, Kapaun was declared a Servant of God, the first step toward sainthood. With Fr. Kapaun’s remains identified, the Catholic Diocese of Wichita is more hopeful than ever that the Kansas priest and Medal of Honor recipient will one day be declared a saint.

“In our Catholic tradition, the body of who we think may be saints is very important to us. The human person is a union of body and soul, so the body is a temple of the soul,” Bishop Carl Kemme with the Wichita Catholic Diocese explained after Kapaun’s remains were identified. “So they’re sacred, the body is sacred. To have that material, concrete remains is really an important development, I think.”

Find more about the process of canonization here:

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