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Pilsen prepares for record number of Kapaun pilgrims

Staff writer

Organizers of an annual walk from Wichita to Pilsen to honor Father Emil Kapaun are preparing to greet a record number of pilgrims this year.

More than 400 have expressed interest in honoring the memory of the priest who died a hero as a prisoner of war.

Interest in his story has boomed with the news that his remains have been found and will return to Kansas.

In the meantime, volunteers are planning to spruce up the grounds of St. John Nepomucene Church and Father Kapaun Museum on May 29.

Volunteers will clean the grounds and museum, polish the statue, paint the roof of the rectory and the church doors in preparation for the June 6 arrival of hundreds of pilgrims that will hail from 24 states.

At the same time volunteers in charge of feeding the crowd will be baking for hundreds in the church basement.

Harriet Bina is confident the community will turn out for the effort — it always has.

“We’ve always had a good group,” she said. “We put out the call that we need help that day and we get a good number of people to help work. Everybody pitches in. They know it’s a big day.”

The wet weather has raised some anxiety as it has forced them to put off some projects.

Bina says she hopes the crew can get some dry days ahead of the visitors to paint.

J.P. Burke has organized the annual walk for 13 years. None of the hosts at stops along the way have been put off by the size of the crowd, he said.

He spoke to Peabody city officials and they still were pleased to give the pilgrims use of the city’s park.

“We have a very good relationship with them,” he said.

Most hosts have simply adjusted plans to accommodate more people.

Harriet Bina said there are plans to put out bigger water tanks and washing stations.

Alvin and Barb Kroupa plan to install water tanks and offer more drinks.

Organizers have been busy recruiting more volunteers along the route and now have about 30.

Burke said he is always amazed at the help that is provided.

“I’ve learned that this walk is truly supported by the grace of God,” he said. “We have so many who just come out of the woodwork to support what we are doing.”

Last modified May 20, 2021

 

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