Gov. Kelly declares Sep. 29 Father Emil Kapaun Day

Father Emil Kapaun is being laid to rest Wednesday, September 29 in Wichita.
Father Emil Kapaun is being laid to rest Wednesday, September 29 in Wichita.(Diocese of Wichita)
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 9:57 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Laura Kelly has proclaimed September 29, 2021, as Father Emil Kapaun Day in honor of the Kansas priest and veteran whose remains were identified and returned home to be laid to rest Wednesday.

The Catholic priest served as an Army Chaplain during World War II and the Korean War. Fr. Kapaun became a Prisoner of War in Korea and risked his life ministering to soldiers until his death in May 1951.

“Father Emil Kapaun was known to care for all prisoners regardless of their background or religion, and we are proud to honor his service and sacrifice for his country,” Gov. Kelly continued saying, “He served with honor and dignity, I hope his return home brings relief and closure to his family and his community.”

Fr. Kapaun is currently on the lengthy path to becoming a saint. The canonization process began in 2008. He also posthumously earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service.

A live stream of Fr. Kapaun’s funeral will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Diocese of Wichita’s YouTube channel.

The Governor’s proclamation reads:


WHEREAS, Father Emil Kapaun was born on April 20, 1916 in Pilsen, Kansas, and raised on his family farm; and

WHEREAS, Father Kapaun was ordained a Catholic Priest in Wichita on June 9, 1940, and served at his home parish of St. John Nepomucene Church in Pilsen, Kansas; and

WHEREAS, Father Kapaun entered the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps in 1944, and served in World War II where he ministered to soldiers and local missions; and

WHEREAS, Father Kapaun served during the Korean War ministering to the dead and dying and performing his priestly duties, but was captured in November 1950 and became a prisoner-of-war; and

WHEREAS, as a prisoner-of-war he stole food and medicine to help his fellow soldiers, and worked tirelessly to lift the spirits of prisoners while he cared for the sick and dying; and

WHEREAS, in May of 1951, Father Kapaun died in a North Korean POW camp after months of declining health; and

WHEREAS, after their release from captivity, Father Kapaun’s fellow soldiers told the world the stories of his heroism; and

WHEREAS, In 1993, Father Kapaun was given the title ‘Servant of God’ by Pope John Paul II, the first step towards sainthood, and the Catholic Church is currently considering him for sainthood; and

WHEREAS, In 2013, Father Kapaun was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama for his actions in North Korea, in addition to the Legion of Merit and Purple Heart medal; and

WHEREAS, For 70 years, Father Kapaun remained missing, until his remains were identified in March of 2021 and turned over to his family on September 21, 2021 in Hawaii; and

WHEREAS, Father Kapaun was brought back home to Kansas and laid to rest inside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, Kansas on September 29, 2021.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Laura Kelly, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF KANSAS, do hereby proclaim September 29th, 2021 as Father Emil Kapaun Day in the state of Kansas and I urge all citizens to join in this observation.

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