Fr. Emil Kapaun returned to Kansas this week, where his remains were interred at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Wichita. To honor the long awaited homecoming, Kansas’ Governor, Laura Kelly, proclaimed September 29, 2021, to be Fr. Emil Kapaun Day.
Fr. Kapaun has previously been honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic deeds during the Korean War. The priest, named a Servant of God by Pope St. John Paul II, in 1993, was known for dashing out onto the front lines to save wounded soldiers. His efforts saved lives from both sides of the war, as he saved wounded men indiscriminately.
He was eventually captured and brought to a POW camp, where he continued to tend to his men. Fr. Kapaun endured torture at the hands of communist forces, but this did not stop his efforts to shepherd his flock. He continued to keep up the spirits of his fellow prisoners, even as he became sick in prison. Denied treatment, Fr. Kapaun eventually succumbed to his illness in May 1951.
Fr. Kapaun Day
On September 29, the day of Fr. Kapaun’s return home after seven decades, Governor Kelly released a proclamation honoring him with a day of celebration. The missive highlights some of the extraordinary actions of the late priest. These included stealing valuable medicine for his fellow POWs while he was a prisoner himself.
Governor Kelly tweeted an image of the proclamation, stating:
“Father Emil Kapaun was known to care for all prisoners – regardless of their background or religion, and we are proud to honor his service and sacrifice for his country,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “He served with honor and dignity, I hope his return home brings relief and closure to his family and his community.”