Vatican official visits Wichita chancery regarding
Father Emil Kapaun’s cause for sainthood
By Tim Wenzl
Editor’s note: Parts of this article first appeared in the Oct. 4 edition of the Catholic Advance.
Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, Postulator with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, was in Wichita Sept. 28 and 29 to look over some work compiled on the documentation of two alleged miracles attributed to the intercession of Father Emil Kapaun.
Father John Hotze, Episcopal Delegate overseeing the gathering of information for the cause, met with Ambrosi at the Wichita chancery. “He was here to ensure that we’ve done everything properly,” Father Hotze said, “so that when we do get all of the interviews done, we can just ship it over to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. We hope to have the interviews complete in the next couple of months.”
The Wichita diocese is investigating the alleged miraculous healings of Avery Gerleman, now a student at Hutchinson Community College, and Chase Kear of Colwich. In 2006, Gerleman, at age 12, was suffering from autoimmune disorder that left her near death; Kear recovered from a traumatic pole vaulting injury to his head in 2008. Father Kapaun could be considered a martyr. If he is declared a martyr, only one miracle would need to be confirmed for his canonization to sainthood.
“The evidence of martyrdom is already at the Congregation for Saints in the documentation that has already been sent,” stated Father Hotze. “Dr. Ambrosi is gathering from those documents evidence to prove martyrdom. (His) martyrdom will be considered first and if proven, the work on the alleged miracles will become proof of Father Kapaun’s popularity and evidence of favors being granted to his intercession. If the martyrdom is not proven to the extent necessary, we will have the work on the alleged miracles ready to submit when beatification is requested.”
Father Kapaun was serving as a chaplain in Korea when he was captured Nov. 1, 1950, after saving a trapped unit of 50 wounded soldiers. Surrounded by Chinese, he gathered a dozen men capable of walking and took them out and surrendered. He told the Chinese that there were only wounded in the command post and asked them to cease attacking.
He continued to minister to the soldiers as a prisoner. He was stricken with a blood clot in one of his legs, dysentery and pneumonia. Father Kapaun died in a camp hospital on May 23, 1951. He was buried in Prison Camp #5, North Korea. (Advance Register Sept. 11, 1953)
The Archdiocese for the Military requested that Father Kapaun be given the title “Servant of God” in 1993. The Diocese of Wichita formally opened the investigation for his cause for sainthood in 2008.
The title “Venerable” can be given to a Servant of God once the Positio (story/account) has been accepted by the Congregation for Saints as proof of his life of sanctity and heroic virtue. The title “Blessed” will be given after Father Kapaun is declared a martyr or after the Positio has been accepted and one miracle has been proven due to his intercession.