Vigil and Funeral Dates Set for Army Chaplain Emil Kapaun

Emil Kapaun
Roman Catholic Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun, United States Army recipient of the Medal of Honor. (Wikipedia)

A vigil and funeral date have been set for Father Emil Kapaun, who died in a Korean War prison camp roughly 70 years ago.

Kapaun, who is on a path toward possible sainthood, is expected to draw a crowd larger than what can be held in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, where Kapaun will eventually be interred, according to the Catholic Diocese of Wichita Director of Communications Matthew Vainer.

The vigil and funeral are planned to be at Hartman Arena.

"I believe at least 3,000 to 5,000" people will attend each service, he said.

It was announced in March that Kapaun's remains had been identified. Tuesday's announcement listed dates for Kapaun's arrival back to Kansas and funeral before he is interred.

Kapaun is expected to arrive at the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport on Saturday, Sept. 25, and a procession will then take him to St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Pilsen, where Kapaun grew up.

"Our thought was to take him back home to his mother, since he had been gone so long," Vainer said.

His mother has died but she and other family are buried in Pilsen, he said.

The diocese is still trying to navigate details through a pandemic, but the plan is to allow Pilsen residents to see Kapaun's remains before they are taken back to the cathedral Monday morning.

The vigil is planned for Sept. 28 and the funeral the next day. There are also plans to stop at the Veterans Memorial Park after the funeral and before taking his remains back to the cathedral.

"We're all excited; it's just a matter of the organizing with covid restrictions," he said. "It's something that should give everybody hope ... we're just a small part in getting him back here."

Details for the crypt at the cathedral are still being worked out. It is expected to be in an alcove along the west part of the cathedral. The public will be able to visit Kapaun's remains there.

Kapaun's final resting place could change if he becomes a saint.

Kapaun was captured by Chinese forces in November 1950 while serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. While in captivity, Kapaun continued to care for his fellow soldiers while resisting his captors, including conducting a sunrise service on Easter morning, 1951. He died alone in a prison camp hospital about two months later. He was 35.

This article is written by Michael Stavola from The Wichita Eagle and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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