The eighth annual Archdiocese of the Military Services Pilgrimage to Pilsen, home of Korean War hero and Chaplain Father Emil J. Kapaun, will be Thursday, Veterans Day.
Mass will be at 11 a.m. at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church-Holy Family Parish, Pilsen. Celebrants will include Bishop Michael O. Jackels, bishop of Wichita; Monsignor Thomas P. Olszyk, judicial vicar of the archdiocese for military services; Monsignor Sommers, a Kenrick Seminary classmate of Father Kapaun; and visiting chaplains and priests of the Kansas dioceses.
Following mass, there will be a posting of military honors and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kapaun statue on the church grounds. A luncheon will follow in the church basement.
Kapaun was ordained in 1940 and served southern Kansas before becoming an Army chaplain during World War II and again in the Korean War. During the war in Korea, knowing of impending capture, Kapaun volunteered to stay behind and care for the wounded. After being captured by North Korean and Chinese forces, Kapaun continued to demonstrate courage and valor in caring for his fellow prisoners. He succumbed to death May 23, 1951, in prison camp No. 5.
On Sept. 28, 2009, then Secretary of the Army Pete Geren announced that Kapaun had been approved by the Army to receive the Medal of Honor. Congressman Todd Tiahrt introduced legislation for Kapaun to be awarded this honor but Congress has not yet acted on the request.
The Catholic Diocese of Wichita continues to work on Kapaun’s cause for beatification and canonization as a saint of the Catholic church.
The public is invited to attend the special event at Pilsen but a special invitation is extended to military members, reservists, veterans, and their families.
For more information, call Kathy Larkins or Father John Hotze at McConnel Air Force Base Chapel, (316) 759-3566.1