Clergy members react to Father Kapaun’s memorial ceremonies

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Father Emil Kapaun’s funeral on Wednesday drew thousands. Kapaun died in 1951 as a prisoner during the Korean War. During his time, Kapaun ministered to fellow prisoners of war.

Bishop Chad Zielinski, a war veteran, traveled from Fairbanks, Alaska, to see the events from the past two days.

“As I learned of the celebration of his funeral when they found his remains, I really made it an effort to come down here,” said Bishop Zielinski.

Zielinski says the magnitude of this event doesn’t go unrecognized.

“It is clearly the biggest event I’ve ever seen for any military chaplain in my lifetime.”

Father Derek Hooper traveled from Jefferson City, Missouri, for this week’s ceremonies.

“It was just an amazing experience,” Father Hooper explained. “Reliving the life and faith of a man who served so many people.”

Like Father Kapaun, both Father Kooper and Bishop Zielinski served in the US military. A similarity they say is a blessing to share with the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

“My devotion to him has been long-lived,” said Father Hooper. “So just seeing him come home was just an awesome experience.”

“I served 21 years in the Air Force as a chaplain and had a familiarity with Father Kapaun and his heroic story. How he cared for soldiers and went far beyond any other person did,” Bishop Zielinski added.

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