WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The family of Fr. Emil Kapaun has notified the Catholic Diocese of Wichita that the remains of Fr. Kapaun are going to be returned to Kansas.
Last month, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced it had identified Fr. Kapaun’s remains.
The Marion County priest served as a U.S. Army Chaplain. While stationed in Japan in 1950, he chose to stay with wounded men during the Battle of Unsan rather than escape.
During seven months in a prison camp, Fr. Kapaun cared for his fellow prisoners. He ignored his own health while nursing the sick and even stole to feed the hungry. He became ill and died on May 23, 1951.
The prisoners who survived went on to tell of Fr. Kapaun’s heroic actions. President Barack Obama awarded Fr. Kapaun the military’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, in 2013.
There is a continuing effort to have Fr. Kapaun declared a saint. In 1993, Fr. Kapaun was named a Servant of God, which signified that his cause for canonization could begin.
The family has discussed with the diocese what should be done with the remains. They have decided the safest option is to place the remains in a crypt inside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.
If Fr. Kapaun is declared a saint in the future, a dedicated shrine or chapel might be built to hold his remains and to commemorate his life.
The diocese does not know when Fr. Kapaun’s remains will be returned. It is working with the family, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, and the Congregation of Saints in Rome to decide the time frame. It could be many months away.
The diocese will make an announcement when it knows the arrival time and times for related events.
To learn more about Fr. Kapaun’s story and the effort to have him recognized as a saint, visit Fr.Kapaun.org.