#238: Ex-POW Remembers Father Emil Kapaun—Col. Mike Dowe

The stories he loves to tell the most are about the priest he credits with keeping him (Dowe) and many hundreds of others alive during their unimaginable years of trial and deprivation at the hands of the communists.

And that is Father Emil Kapaun (pronounced “kaPAUN” if you knew him, “KAYpin” if you live in Wichita). A Pilsen KS farm boy who became a parish priest, then a US army chaplain during World War II, young Father Emil would spend his final months treating the wounded and serving GIs in combat zones—and in the concentration camp north of the Yalu where he died of pneumonia and other debilitations on May 23, 1951.

Named Servant of God by St. John Paul II in 1993 and posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor in 2013, Kapaun was the subject of my monologue episode #225 of The Patrick Coffin Show (see the link below). 

In 1954, witness to Kapaun’s holiness Mike Dowe wrote the moving account of being in the same extreme conditions with Father Kapaun for The Saturday Evening Post in 1954, which introduced the heroic chaplain to the American reading public.

But this interview is no dry historic record or tidbits of theology.  It is a slice of living history for both the US Military and the Catholic Church. The nonagenarian Col. Mike Dowe is one of the last two living links to the great Father Emil Kapaun. His riveting story deserves to be heard.

In this Episode You Will Learn

  • First-hand personal anecdotes about a future saint 
  • The electrifying news that Father Kapaun’s remains were found in a military cemetery in Hawaii in December 2020
  • The specific ways this heroic chaplain kept hope alive in men who were weakened by war, and sick with debilitating diseases in the camp
  • Examples of how the chaplain treated non-Catholic fellow prisoners and why he was universally revered as a source of comfort and strength
  • The life lessons Kapaun offers for those undergoing trials and tribulations
  • Why Dowe believes Father Kapaun should be canonized as a martyr for the Faith.

Resources Mentioned

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