‘The Miracle of Father Kapaun’ to be presented on stage in August

Jul 15, 2010

Newman University and The Vagabond Players will present “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 is written by Anne Welsbacher in collaboration with Dr. Richard Welsbacher, both of Wichita. The play is presented under the direction of Jean Ann Cusick.

“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to stage this show for the Wichita community,” said Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. “The story of Father’s Kapaun’s life is powerful and inspirational. I think everyone who sees it will be moved.”

For the Friday performance, tickets will be $20. The doors open at 7 p.m. with curtain call at 7:30 p.m. The event features a reception following the play with members of the cast and guests of honor the Kear family. In 2008, college student Chase Kear suffered a severe head injury in a pole vaulting accident. He was not expected to live, but recovered in what his doctors and family describe as a miracle because, the family claims, they prayed to Fr. Emil Kapaun, an Army chaplain from Pilsen, Kan., who died in 1951 in a North Korean prisoner of war camp.

On Saturday, the event will include a dinner featuring guest speakers Roy Wenzl and Joe Davison, M.D., Chase Kear’s physician. Tickets for the dinner and the play are $75 per person, while tickets for the play only are $20 per person. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center on the Newman campus, with the play following in Performance Hall. Doors open at 7 p.m., with curtain call at 7:30 p.m.

Proceeds from both evenings will benefit Newman University Fine Arts and provide support for the university’s theatre program. To reserve tickets for either night, visit http://themiracle.eventbrite.com or call 316-942-4291, ext. 2163.

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 Kapaun for a Medal of Honor, and the Catholic Diocese of Wichita is working to have Kapaun named a saint. In addition to the experience of the Kear family, 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. He is being considered by the Vatican for possible designation as a martyr. Fr. Kapaun is also the subject of a 12-foot by 4 ½-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.