To the editor:
Recently Mindy Kepfield of the Marion County Record wrote an article on the renovation of the Pilsen Church. A week later, Mindy once again published an article for the Marion County Record about the Father Kapaun petition box.
From the responses I received, I felt that I needed to clarify a little about the petition box.
First of all, I love the story of Father Kapaun! I admire his faith and his courage. In the prison camps of Korea, under penalty of torture and even death, Father Kapaun stood up to the communists and defied them when they told the men lies about America.
He faced the enemy and told the POWs the truth about the war, going against what the enemy wanted them to believe. That took courage as a chaplain and as a soldier.
But, that does not place Father Kapaun on the same level as God! If I have given anyone the belief that I put Father Kapaun above the Lord and Savior, I apologize. That thought never even crossed my mind!
Maybe I need to explain a few things. The petition box in Pilsen holds many personal prayers. It holds prayers from people of all faiths, not just Catholics.
These people are asking Father Kapaun to intercede for them. To intercede means to plead on behalf of another. That is what people are asking of Father Kapaun. They are asking Father Kapaun to pray for them, just as a friend might ask you to pray for them. They are asking Father Kapaun, who we believe is in heaven with God, to take their prayers directly to God and place them at the foot of his throne, asking God to please hear and answer their prayer. We pray for these petitions at every Mass.
We all know that God can work a miracle, but we also know from scripture that God worked miracles through the apostles and disciples, and we believe He is working miracles through Father Kapaun!
Father Kapaun gave hope to the men in the prison camps of Korea, when there was no hope! He reminded them that God knew where they were; he had not forgotten them.
People placing their prayers in that petition box have renewed hope that Father Kapaun will assist them. He will take their prayers straight to God. He is giving them hope today, in a world filled with pain and sorrow, just as he did many years ago in those prison camps in Korea.
When you come for a tour in Pilsen, one of the first things we tell people is that we are not here to compare our faiths. We are here to tell you a little about the Catholic faith so that some of the misconceptions that have been told to you will be clarified.
Also, it will help you understand why Father Kapaun did certain things on the battlefield or in the prison camps. Hopefully it will help you understand a little more about the alleged miracles — yes, miracles attributed to Father Kapaun’s intercession!
During a homily at Pilsen, several years ago, we were told the God has called all of us to be saints. We were told to follow the teachings of Christ, obey the Ten Commandments, give honor and glory to God at all times, and to carry our crosses here on earth just as Jesus did.
That is what all the saints did, and that is what Father Kapaun did. In the worst of circumstances he stood strong for our Lord. Through starvation, brainwashing, torture, disease, and hopelessness, his faith never wavered. When others in the prison camp grew crueler, he only became kinder. He died serving God!
There are many roads that will lead you to the little town of Pilsen. The road is not always smooth but the destination is the same. Christians too, are traveling many different roads trying to reach heaven. Many are following the same road our parents traveled. But each of us is praying to reach our eternal reward.
May the road you have chosen be the one that is straight and smooth and God willing, may you one day receive your crown of glory!
Harriet Miller Bina
Last modified Jan. 7, 2021