Newman University and The Vagabond Players presented “The Miracle of Father Kapaun” on Friday, Aug. 13 and Saturday, Aug. 14 in Performance Hall, inside the De Mattias Fine Arts Center on the Newman campus.
The play, a readers theatre presentation, is based on the original story written for The Wichita Eagle by Roy Wenzl. The original stage script, written by Anne Welsbacher in collaboration with Dr. Richard Welsbacher, both of Wichita, was presented under the direction of Jean Ann Cusick.
Proceeds from both evenings benefited Newman University Fine Arts and provided support for the university’s theatre program.
Fr. Kapaun was a Catholic priest who served as an Army chaplain during World War II and the Korean War. He was ordained in Newman University’s St. John’s Chapel on June 9, 1940. The Army has recommended Fr. Kapaun for a Medal of Honor, and the Catholic Diocese of Wichita is working to have him named a saint. The diocese and the Archdiocese of the Military Services have received and are investigating several reports of miracles involving Fr. Kapaun, including reports by survivors of the POW camp who witnessed Fr. Kapaun’s selfless acts of kindness and faith, and of the Kear family, who claim that prayers to Fr. Kapaun caused their son Chase to recover from a massive head injury. Fr. Kapaun is being considered by the Vatican for possible designation as a martyr. Fr. Kapaun is also the subject of a 12-foot by 4 1/2-foot painting by artist Wendy Lewis that was unveiled in St. John’s Chapel at Newman University Aug. 5, 2009.
The play is based on an eight-part series on the life of Fr. Kapaun by Wenzl in The Wichita Eagle. The series has won two national awards. One is first place for News Series by the National Headliner Awards. The other is first place in Feature Reporting, a Sigma Delta Chi Award sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists.