Newman University holds a distinctive connection with the man who may someday be numbered among the saints of the Catholic Church.
Father Emil Kapaun was ordained a priest in St. John’s Chapel at Newman University on June 9, 1940. Tuesday marks the 75th anniversary of Father Kapaun’s ordination.
The chapel is located on the second floor of Sacred Heart Hall on the Newman campus in Wichita, Kan.
Although renovations brought about the removal of the original Gothic-like altar, the chapel that played an integral role in Fr. Kapaun’s priesthood remains largely the same.
One noticeable addition to St. John’s Chapel is a 12-foot mural created by artist Wendy Lewis symbolizing the life of Fr. Kapaun, who served as an Army chaplain during World War II and the Korean War, and died in 1951 in a prisoner of war camp in North Korea.
A movement has been underway for many years to have Fr. Kapaun proclaimed a saint by the Catholic Church, for his bravery and selflessness in the Korean War, and for miracles that have been attributed to his intercession. Fr. Kapaun’s cause of beatification, an important step to being named a saint, is currently being considered by the Vatican.
In his homily at a 2009 Mass celebrating the unveiling of the artwork, Fr. John Hotze, the episcopal delegate for Fr. Kapaun’s cause, shared the following reflection:
“Father Emil Kapaun left this chapel a changed man, leaving this chapel a priest, ordained to serve the Universal Church in the Diocese of Wichita. Father Kapaun continued to answer this call to faith. This call of faith was to take him to the corners of the earth. This call would eventually lead him to lay down his life for his friends. Father Kapaun, building the Universal Church that he was called to serve.”
Last week the Most Reverend Carl A. Kemme, Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita, declared a Year of Father Kapaun, beginning June 7, 2015 and concluding June 9, 2016.