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#225: The Bravest Priest You’ve Never Heard Of—Fr. Emil Kapaun

Emil Joseph Kapaun was a farm boy from Pilsen, Kansas, born in 1916 to a devout Czech Catholic family that eked out an existence during the Depression. Young Emil felt called to the priesthood and ended up a Chaplain to the U.S. Army during World War II, where he served admirably in the Burma Theater.

He re-enlisted and attained the rank of Captain when the Korean War broke out in 1950. And this is where his jaw-dropping heroism emerged. Father Kapaun, in the words of the soldiers he loved and served, was “all priest and all man.” 

He twice declined the chance to escape the Communist Chinese, preferring to stay with “his boys,” many of whom were badly wounded or otherwise abused. Kapaun was sent to a Communist prison camp north of the Yalu River, where he, among other incredible things, gave the traumatized POWs reason after reason to stay alive and to hope for liberation—a liberation that never arrived for him.

Father died of his many illnesses and deprivations from forced starvation. His mortal remains were discovered in December, 2020, ina military cemetery in Hawaii, which will hopefully move his Cause for Canonization forward.

 

In this episode, you will learn

  • The basic life story of Servant of God Father Kapaun
  • The account by Lt. Mike Dowe, a fellow prisoner with Father in the camp, that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in 1954
  • Near unbelievable acts of heroic kindness toward prisoners of all religious faith or none
  • Why he is a stellar example of specifically priestly service
  • The list of US-born male saint candidates (there are none at present)
  • The strangely low pace of Kapaun’s Cause compared to modern beati like Bl. Carlo Acuti, the Italian teen who died only in 2006
  • Why Father Kapaun is a proven powerful intercessor

Resources mentioned in this episode

 

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