A Shepherd in Combat Boots. What a special call. I wonder why any man would choose to be a priest for soldiers.
Here is the reason Fr. Emil Kapaun gave:
When I was ordained, I was determined to ‘spend myself ’ for God. I was determined to do that cheerfully, no matter in what circumstances I would be placed or how hard a life I would be asked to lead. This is why I volunteered for the army and that is why today I would a thousand times rather be working, deprived of all ordinary comforts, being a true ‘Father’ to all my people, then to be living in a nice, comfortable place but with my conscience telling me that I am an obstacle to many.~ Fr. Emil Kapaun 1944 to his bishop
He wrote this to his Bishop in 1944 just before entering the Army in WWII. He was asking to be removed from his hometown parish in Pilsen, Kansas. He understood that it was hard for some of the people who had known him all his life to accept him as their spiritual leader.
He felt called to be a chaplain (entered the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps in 1944) and served as one in Japan, 1948. In 1950 he was sent to Korea and later that year was captured and entered a prisoner of war camp. Fr. Kapaun is remembered for his self giving service to the other men in the camp. He took care of them and risked his life many times to bring them food and water. He encouraged the men, administered the sacraments and cared for their needs. He was often punished by his Chinese captors simply because of the strength of his character and the hope he brought to the other men. I believe that Fr. Kapaun would have thought of them as his children because from what I have read about him he took his priestly vocation to heart and wanted to be a “true father” to them. He did so until he got too sick and was confined to a “hospital” where he died.
This has been a long time coming. I am so filled with joy today to see Chaplain Kapaun receive the medal of honor. Now we just need to work on his Cause for Sainthood. Fr.Kapaun has been given the official title of Servant of God by the church. We often ask for his prayers from heaven for our specific needs and we named our homeschool after him: Fr. Emil J. Kapaun Home Study School. He has been very inspiring to this Army family.
You can read more about Fr. Emil Kapaun in the long awaited book The Miracle of Fr. Emil Kapaun. Another book you may like is A Shepherd in Combat Boots: Chaplain Emil Kapaun of the 1st Cavalry Division.
Fr. Kapaun is the last chaplain featured here on Harrington Harmonies as part of:
Army Chaplain Emil Kapaun from Army Chaplain Corps
Official Army Site on Fr. Emil Kapaun: Medal of Honor Recipient
The Miracle of Fr. Kapaun – Documentary
A Chaplain’s Story- love this story as we were stationed in Kieserslautern.
Wendy Lewis painting of Fr. Kapaun
Miracle of Fr. Emil Kapaun: Wichita Eagle