Hometown celebrates Kansas man who is a candidate for sainthood

Posted: Friday, June 08, 2001

PILSEN, Kan. (AP) -- A priest from Kansas who died while ministering to soldiers in a Korean prisoner of war camp -- and who is now a candidate for sainthood -- has been memorialized with a life-sized statue.

The dedication at St. John Nepomucene Church is part of an effort by the Wichita Roman Catholic Diocese and the Archdiocese for Military Services to have the Rev. Emil J. Kapaun canonized.

''There has to be a groundswell of interest, a grass-roots attraction for what he stood for,'' said Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of the Archdiocese for Military Services in Washington, D.C., which provides pastoral services for military personnel and others.

Kapaun was a Pilsen native and the most highly decorated chaplain in the military, receiving the Bronze Star, the Distinguished Service Cross and other honors.

After being taken as a prisoner of war in 1950, Kapaun nursed the sick and wounded until a blood clot in his leg prevented his daily rounds. He was moved to a hospital and died on May 23, 1951.

Eight years ago, the Vatican announced Kapaun officially would be called ''servant of God,'' in what could be the first step to his eventual elevation to sainthood.

The statue depicts Kapaun helping a soldier.

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