Easter Sunday, March 25, 1951: POW Servant of God Brings the Light of Christ to his Men

Sunday, March 27, AD 2016


The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to

Chaplain (Captain) Emil J. Kapaun
United States Army

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea, from November 1-2, 1950. On November 1, as Chinese Communist Forces viciously attacked friendly elements, Chaplain Kapaun calmly walked through withering enemy fire in order to provide comfort and medical aid to his comrades and rescue friendly wounded from no-man’s land. Though the Americans successfully repelled the assault, they found themselves surrounded by the enemy. Facing annihilation, the able-bodied men were ordered to evacuate. However, Chaplain Kapaun, fully aware of his certain capture, elected to stay behind with the wounded. After the enemy succeeded in breaking through the defense in the early morning hours of November 2, Chaplain Kapaun continually made rounds, as hand-to-hand combat ensued. As Chinese Communist Forces approached the American position, Chaplain Kapaun noticed an injured Chinese officer amongst the wounded and convinced him to negotiate the safe surrender of the American Forces. Shortly after his capture, Chaplain Kapaun, with complete disregard for his personal safety and unwavering resolve, bravely pushed aside an enemy soldier preparing to execute Sergeant First Class Herbert A. Miller. Not only did Chaplain Kapaun’s gallantry save the life of Sergeant Miller, but also his unparalleled courage and leadership inspired all those present, including those who might have otherwise fled in panic, to remain and fight the enemy until captured. Chaplain Kapaun’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the United States Army.

On Easter Sunday March 25, 1951, Father Emil Kapaun, go here to read more about him. was drawing near to his death, his body wracked by dysentery, weakened by starvation, an ulcer growing on one of his legs and the initial stages of pneumonia developing in his lungs. However, none of that was of any consequence to him: he was a priest in a Chinese POW camp, it was Easter, and his fellow soldiers needed him and nothing else mattered. Somehow he had convinced their guards to allow him to hold a service in a bombed out Church on a rise near the camp. At sunrise he and 80 other soldiers climbed up to the wrecked church. He had no bread or wine so he could not say Mass. Instead he led them in the stations of the cross, saying the Rosary while doing so, a Rosary he made out of barbed wire. Men who had been beaten and starved wept as Father Kapaun told them how Christ had been beaten and died for them. They said the glorious mysteries. He preached a sermon on forgiveness. They sang the Lord’s Prayer loudly at the end so that the enlisted men back at the camp, kept segregated from the officers by their Chinese captors, could hear the prayer.

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POW Servant of God Easter Sermon

Sunday, April 5, AD 2015

On Easter Sunday 1942 Father Emil Kapaun, the POW Servant of God  I have written about here, here , here and  here delivered an Easter Sermon.  Go here to read it.

Nine years later, shortly before his death in a Chinese prisoner of war camp, he preached another Easter sermon.  Before a crude wooden cross  he gave an unforgettable sermon on the Passion of Our Lord and led the rosary using a barbed wire rosary he had made from the wire that ringed the camp.  Suffering from dysentery, pneumonia and an infection in one of his legs and in his eyes and so weak he could barely stand, he somehow found  the strength to help his men,  in the midst of their misery, to recognize the boundless joy of Easter.  In many ways the entire life of Father Kapaun was a joyful sermon on Easter.

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2 Responses to POW Servant of God Easter Sermon

  • In Fathers weakness and sufferings the Joy of Christ shines through. It’s remarkable and fitting. The essence of Christ is manifested in his obedient ones. God bless his friend and servant Fr.Kapaun.

  • Reading his sermon in his own handwriting, I am struck by how composed and organized and focused his thoughts are, even suffering from dysentery, starvation, infection in his legs and an eye, and pneumonia. His strength of character must have struck fear into his enemies, I assume first the Imperial Japanese, and next the Maoists.
    “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. ” Rev. 6:9

Pow Servant of God Receives Medal of Honor

Sunday, April 14, AD 2013

The POW Servant of God Father Emil Kapaun received the Medal of Honor on April 11, 2012.  Here is what he did to earn it.

Serving as a chaplain at Fort Bliss, Father Kapaun was ordered to Japan in 1950.  Upon the outbreak of the Korean War, he was assigned to a front line combat unit, the 3rd battalion, 8th cavalry regiment, 1rst Cavalry Division.

With his unit Father Kapaun participated during June-September 1950 in the desperate defense of the Pusan Perimeter and then in the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, which, combined with the Inchon landings in Operation Chromite, the brilliant stroke by General Douglas MacArthur,  led to the eviction of the invading North Korean armies from South Korea and the capture of the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on October 19, 1950.  During all of this Father Kapaun was a whirlwind of activity:  tending the wounded, administering the Last Sacrament to the dying, keeping up the morale of the troops.  He said mass as close as he could get to the battle lines from an improvised platform on a jeep.


On November 1, 1950 Chaplain Kapaun’s unit ran headlong into advancing Chinese Communist forces at Unsan, North Korea, about 50 miles south of the Chinese border with North Korea.¬†¬† The official citation of the award of the Distinguish Service Cross to Chaplain Kapaun tells of his role in the battle:

The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Emil Joseph Kapaun(O-0558217), Captain (Chaplain), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection withmilitary operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Chaplain with Headquarters Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment (Infantry), 1st Cavalry Division. Captain (Chaplain) Kapaun distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Unsan, Korea, on 1 and 2 November 1950.

On the afternoon of 1 November 1950, and continuing through the following 36 hours, the regiment was subjected to a relentless, fanatical attack by hostile troops attempting to break through the perimeter defense. In the early morning hours, the enemy succeeded in breaking through the defenses, and hand-to-hand combat ensued in the immediate vicinity of the command post where the aid station had been set up. Chaplain Kapaun, with complete disregard for his personal safety, calmly moved among the wounded men, giving them medical aid and easing their fears. His courageous manner inspired all those present and many men who might otherwise have fled in panic were encouraged by his presence and remained to fight the enemy.

As the battle progressed, the number of wounded increased greatly and it became apparent that many of the men would not be able to escape the enemy encirclement. Finally, at dusk on November 2, 1950, the remaining able- bodied men were ordered to attempt to break through the surrounding enemy. At this time, although fully aware of the great danger, Chaplain Kapaun voluntarily remained behind, and when last seen was administering medical treatment and rendering religious rites wherever needed.

Along with the other Americans captured Father Kapaun was marched north in bitterly cold winter weather approximately 100 miles.¬† One of his fellow prisoners, Herbert Miller, was wounded and had a broken ankle.¬† Mr. Miller survived the war and here is a recent statement by him on what happened next.¬† ‚ÄúI was wounded with a broken ankle and the North Koreans were going to shoot me. He brushed them aside, reached down and picked me up and carried me. How he found the strength, I’ll never know. He was the bravest man I ever saw.‚ÄĚ

Father Kapaun and his fellow POWs were taken, after their two week march, to a temporary camp which they called The Valley located 10 miles south of Pyoktong, NorthKorea, the first in a series of camps in the area where Father Kapuan and the men from his unit were held.  Of the approximately 1000 Americans who were taken here 500-700 died.  I was astonished in researching this article to learn that during their first year of operation the Chinese POW camps had a death rate of 40%, which makes them worse than the Japanese POW camps during World War II in which approximately one-third of the Allied prisoners perished.

Then the events began which made Father Kapaun unforgettable to the men who survived this Gehenna on Earth.  First, the men needed food.  On the miserable rations they had from the Chinese they were starving to death.  Father Kapaun staged daring daylight raids into surrounding fields to scavenge for hidden potatoes and sacks of corn.  If he had been discovered it is quite likely that he would have been shot on the spot.  He always shared his food with the other men, and his example shamed his fellow prisoners who also scavenged for food outside of the camp to do the same and share their food.

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POW Servant of God

Sunday, February 24, AD 2013


In the midst of a World War, Emil Kapaun was born in peaceful Pilsen, Kansas on August 20, 1916.  His parents were Czech immigrants and virtually everyone in the area spoke Czech.  From an early age Emil knew that he wanted to be a priest and would play mass with his younger brother.  Graduating from Conception Abbey seminary college in Conception Missouri in 1936,  Emil attended Kendrick Theological Seminary in Saint Louis, and was ordained a priest of the diocese of Wichita in June 1940.  Father Kapaun returned to his home parish Saint John Nepomucene in Pilsen as an assistant to Father Sklenar who, together with his Bishop, had paid the cost of his attendance at the seminary.  During these years Father Kapaun was also an auxiliary chaplain at Herington Air Base.  After the retirement of Father Sklenar in December 1943, Father Kapaun became pastor of his boyhood parish.  Receiving permission from his Bishop, Father Kapaun joined the army as a chaplain in July 1944.

Chaplain Kapaun’s intial assignment was as chaplain at Camp Wheeler in Georgia.¬† In April 1945 he was sent to the C-B-I (China-Burma-India) theater of operations.¬† While in the C-B-I he traveled over 2000 miles by jeep to say mass for the troops in the forward areas.¬† Arriving in India he served as a chaplain for the troops on the Ledo road from Ledo, India to Lashio, Burma.¬†¬† Chaplain Kapaun became friends with the Catholic missionaries, priests and nuns from Italy, at Lashio.¬† Taking up a collection for the missions from American troops, who responded generously, Father Kapaun also prevailed upon American combat engineers to construct a building in Lashio to be used as a school and a church.¬† Here is a picture of Father Kapaun, viewer’s right, along with his trusty jeep, while he was in the C-B-I.


Promoted to Captain, he remained in the C-B-I until May of 1946 and was mustered out of the Army in July 1946.¬† With the approval of his Bishop, Father Kapuan enrolled at Catholic University in Washington on the G.I. Bill, and obtained a Master’s degree in education in February 1948.¬† In April his Bishop appointed him pastor in Timken, Kansas in April 1948.¬† Believing that he was called to be a chaplain for the troops, and with the consent of his Bishop, Father Kapaun rejoined the army as a chaplain in September 1948.

Serving as a chaplain at Fort Bliss, Father Kapaun was ordered to Japan in 1950.  Upon the outbreak of the Korean War, he was assigned to a front line combat unit, the 3rd battalion, 8th cavalry regiment, 1rst Cavalry Division.

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POW Servant of God To Receive Medal of Honor

Sunday, February 24, AD 2013


On April 11, 2012 Father Emil Kapaun,¬†the POW Servant of God, will receive posthumously¬†this nation’s highest decoration for heroism, the Medal of Honor:

The Pentagon is expected to invite several of Kapaun’s fellow former prisoners of war to attend the ceremony. They survived horrific conditions in the prison camp after they were captured in the first battles against the Chinese Army in late 1950, shortly after China entered the Korean War.

All of these soldiers, now in their mid- or upper 80s, have lobbied for more than 60 years to persuade the Army to award Kapaun the Medal of Honor.

They also have lobbied the Roman Catholic Church to elevate him to sainthood. The Vatican recently completed an extensive investigation and is considering the matter.

Soldiers like Mike Dowe, William Funchess, Robert Wood, Robert McGreevy and Herb Miller, most of them Protestants, have spent decades writing letters or giving interviews describing repeated acts of bravery by Kapaun. They said he repeatedly ran through machine gun fire, dragging wounded soldiers to safety during the first months of the war.

They said his most courageous acts followed in a prisoner of war camp, where Kapaun died in May 1951. They said he saved hundreds of soldiers’ lives using faith and the skills honed on his family’s farm near Pilsen.

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4 Responses to POW Servant of God To Receive Medal of Honor

  • I am very pleased that Father Kapaun is finally going to receive the Medal of Honor. Reading his story never fails to bring tears to my eyes. He was a great man, a fine soldier, a faithful priest. We are very proud here in Kansas.

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  • What is perhaps more shameful for our American military (see “bureaucracy,” and “government”) is that the toughest group in the world to be admitted to, the recognized saints of the Church, seems to be more easily given than the Medal of Honor.

  • ‚ÄúI never liked being called the ‚Äėmost decorated‚Äô soldier. There were so many guys who should have gotten medals and never did‚Äď
    guys who were killed.‚ÄĚ

    Audie Murphy

POW Servant of God Easter Sermon

Sunday, April 4, AD 2010

On Easter Sunday 1942 Father Emil Kapaun, the POW Servant of God  I have written about here, here , here and  here delivered an Easter Sermon.  Go here to read it.

Nine years later, shortly before his death in a Chinese prisoner of war camp, he preached another Easter sermon.  Before a crude wooden cross  he gave an unforgettable sermon on the Passion of Our Lord and led the rosary using a barbed wire rosary he had made from the wire that ringed the camp.  Suffering from dysentery, pneumonia and an infection in one of his legs and in his eyes and so weak he could barely stand, he somehow found  the strength to help his men,  in the midst of their misery, to recognize the boundless joy of Easter.  In many ways the entire life of Father Kapaun was a joyful sermon on Easter.

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POW Servant of God Recommended for Medal of Honor

Tuesday, October 13, AD 2009

Father Emil Kapaun

Hattip to the Curt Jester.  Father Emil Kapaun, the POW Servant of God who died a heroic death in a Chinese POW camp during the Korean War, and who I have written about here, here and here may soon have a new earthly honor.  Army Secretary Peter Geren has recommended that Father Kapaun be awarded the Medal of Honor.  Now it is up to Congress to pass the legislation to send the award on to President Obama.  I recall when I drafted my original post I was surprised that Father Kapaun had not been awarded the Medal of Honor since clearly he had earned it many times over.  If awarded the Medal, he would bring the number of chaplains to eight who have received the highest military decoration this nation can bestow.

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Vatican Finds Evidence of POW Servant of God's Miracle

Wednesday, July 1, AD 2009


Hattip to Creative Minority Report and to Father Zimmerman.  As I detailed here,  a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Emil Kapaun, the heroic Army Catholic Chaplain who died in a Chinese POW camp during the Korean War, has been under investigation by the Vatican.  As reported here, the Vatican investigator Andrea Ambrosi has apparently found indications of the miraculous having taken place.  Perhaps one day I will be able to refer to Father Kapaun not as the POW Servant of God but as the POW Saint!

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A Miracle For Father Kapaun, the POW Servant of God?

Wednesday, June 24, AD 2009


In April of this year I wrote a post about the remarkable POW Servant of God, Father Emil Kapaun, a heroic Catholic Chaplain who died in a Chinese POW camp during the Korean War.  Now, and a grateful hattip to reader Rick Lugari, the Vatican is investigating a miracle attributed to the intercession of  Father Kapaun.

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32 Responses to A Miracle For Father Kapaun, the POW Servant of God?

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  • Hello, I am asking prayer for the Gas station attendent who was shot tonith in Detroit, I am also praying for all in Detroit

  • Prayers on the way Barbara.

  • Hi, I am requesting a prayer for my husband, Marc, father of 3 who at age 52 had a major stroke, was in the hospital for 3 months and they didnt think he would make it. He did make it, but he lost his left periperal vision . and is still kinda numb on his left side. It has stopped him from being able to do much of anything. Our life has changed a lot! We just ask for your prayers that he will continue to get better!

  • Hello, I am asking for a prayer and miracle for my little dog who means the world to me and I love him more than words can express. He has been diagnosed with a middle ear tumor that they suspect is cancer. He also has a cyst on the same side of his face that would make the surgery very complicated due to a lot of nevers being damaged among other complications. I have elected not to have the sugery. I pray that he will live many more years by side.

  • Prayers are on the way Rebecca and Ann.

  • Please pray for my 12 year old grand daughter. Last year she was a happy and healthy young girl. Straight A student. Always the first to help. Last Easter started to walk funny. After tests they determined she had a AVM type 2 on her spine. Now a year later and 5 surg later she is in a wheel chair unbale to walk or go to the bathroom with out cathing herself. She is handeling it much better than us adults. I pray every day for a miracle. Please help me pray for Delilah Patsy Palmer. Thank you

  • Please ask Father Kapaun to please ask Our Lord to make my 11 yr old daughter talk. She has mental delays and her brain does not allow her to sound out words. I ask everyday to Our Lord to keep her safe and to watch over her while at school. My mother who also lives with us is 91 years old and was in the hospital 2 yrs ago and the x-ray showed a tumor in her lung. I did not let them investigate further because of her age and that she would decline in health if was brought to her attendtion her. She has been coughing for the past 3 years of really unknown origin. I pray each day also for her that whatever the Dr.s saw on the x-ray that it was benign. My husband also had Prostate Cancer and is doing well. I pray that he remains well to continue being a great father to our daughter who needs him so and so do I.

  • My dearest Father Kapaun, I would like to ask our Lord for a prayer for me. I have an important final tomorrow I ask that your presence will guide me through this tough test. Thank you.

  • Please pray for me that I can take care of myself financially. I have had problems with this most of my life, love what I do, but need to have more confidence. Thank you for your prayers.

  • Father Kapaun, in life your love of Christ and your love of your fellow Man shone forth from you. In the POW camp in which you died you constantly risked your life to aid your fellow prisoners. We humbly beseech you to pray to God for those who have asked your intercession.

  • We ask your intercession,prayers and blessings on our 2 month old grandson who has not yet come home from the hospital. He is facing a possible heart transplant and we ask that you intercede and ask God to cure him so he may grow up to be a good man with the family who loves him and be an example of Gods power and love of His children.

  • Dear Father Kapaun, my life has always been ups and downs. But lately downs I have been taking care of my mother in the last 2years and my financialies has put me in a burden she is very ill with a disease and has alzheimers’. I dont receive any help. I want the best care for her and I pray each day for help. I know Gods power is mighty and miracles. Please pray that I can financially take care of mother Shirley and help me through my problems. Thank you for your prayers.

  • Dear Father Kapaun

    I have been trying to stay strong with my faith to help my son shaun 29yrs old through his stressful time.He is at his lowest time now.
    Accusations in the court i’ve appealed.He lost his son 2yrs ago after 4days with us Logan past away.He feels like he’s never been able to mourn his death.
    He tried to please his girlfriend and her daughters they have split up .He lost his job because they judged him over accusations in court.He had a terrible accident which showed him he blacked out then and 6yrs ago he blacked out rolling his vehicle.Now he’s going through medical test to see why he does this.
    He feels so guilty about my financial and emotional help.I told him ask me to take him anytime and pick him up anytime.He needs your help and prayers to lift him up.Please pray to God to help him through his troubled times.

  • Father Kapaun

    My Fiance Stephen 51yrs old is an alcoholic and laiden with debt because of bad decisions.If it be Gods will to give him strength to stop all his addictions and find a buyer for his property to start over please prayer to God for his strength and healing

  • Dear Father Kapaun,
    Please pray for my 12 year old daughter who suffers greatly from autism. She also has severe neurological issues other than autism. I pray for a miracle every day so that she can have a happy, healthy life and be out of physical pain.

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  • Father Abel Kapaun, please help my brother Mark who is going through a horrible divorce. Give him the strenght and courage to get through this without losing faith or hope. I pray to you that he is not ruined. Laura

  • Dear Father Kapaun, PLEASE PLEASE pray for a miracle for my little boy, John Dobb, who is only 8 years old. My darling boy has had many obstacles to overcome, starting with being born 2 months premature, a stroke in-utero, mild cerebral palsy, and appraxia of speech. He has worked hard since day one on this earth, taking so much extra effort to do things most kids can do without a thought. He is very bright, mainstreamed in school, and aside from his speech impairmaent you would never know he’s had any difficulties. We found a brain tumor last May, but it has recently started growing faster than he is. It’s a very difficult tumor as it is very vascular, and is also right at the brain stem which makes removal extremely difficult. My son has a heart of gold, always helping others, collecting items for the troops overseas last Christmas season, collecting donations for the Last Chance Animal Rescue, helping Daddy shovel the snow (and the neighbors, too). Just a great kid who doesn’t deserve more obstacles in his little life. PLEASE PLEASE pray for a miracle that if his biopsy turns out to be cancerous (or not) that his surgeon’s hands will be guided by God Himself and will make this thing go away forever. My little guy has so much to offer to the world. I feel very selfish to ask, but I am feeling very helpless right now. If you could please pray for strength for me … I sure could use it right now. Thank you for your consideration. Jennifer

  • I pray Father Kapaun that you may intercede with God for Jennifer’s son John and for all those who are asking your aid.


  • Dear Father Kapaun
    I pray that you Father Kapaun may intercede with God,the Father and grant me a miracle.For 4 years I’ve been praying and hoping and it only gets worse.By his choice,my only son is estranged from me,his Mother,his sister,his entire family.I pray to have my son and his two children back in our lives.My heart is broken,I cry every day.I pray my son would contact his Mother and realize he loves and wants to see me and will let me see his children.I want my son back,right now its as if he is dead,Please I beg of you help me,I will say any prayers,novina’s,fast,anything.Thank you,

  • Dear Father Kapaun,
    Please pray for my sister in law Marianne. She is 43 yrs old and has been wheelchair bound from Mutiple Scerosis. She has suffered from her early 20’s. She is going for experimental treatment this week and this is her last hope. Her prognosis has been poor to date. She has zero quality of life. I hope she gets to have a least one day to do things that so many of us take for granted. She can not do a thing on her own. I believe a miracle can happen. I hope everyone will say a prayer for her. Thank you.

  • Dear Fr. Kapaun,
    I am writing to you for a special hope and prayer that my brother’s good friend Dylan survives a massive brain trauma. He is only in his early 30’s and full of life. The doctors have told the family that he is verging on brain death…with no hopes for recovery into a normal life. He has a beautiful wife and a child. Please Father Kapuan, we are asking for a miracle of life. Some sign that tells his family he is going to be okay. I am merely an observer, but am praying with all my heart for his recovery.

  • Please pray for my family. We have been through alot the last few months. Please give my home a miracle and let Joe, my husband, get over all his health issues and my daughter, be accepted to law school. Please provide peace and health in our home so we can smile again. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

    I AM ASKING YOU TO PRAY FOR MY MOTHER WHO IS ILL. I AM ASKING FOR A MIRACLE. THE DOCTORS ARE SAYING SHE DOESN’T HAVE LONG TO LIVE. I BELIEVE MIRACLES HAPPEN. I HOPE EVEYONE WILL SAY A PRAYER FOR HER. I pray Father Kapaun that you may intercede with God for Mary’s recovery and for all those who are asking your aid. i ask this IN THE NAME OF JESUS. AMEN.

  • dear father kapaun, iam asking you to pray for my son who has an addiction problem. also for the health of a good friend who is pregnant and on bedrest that she might be healthy and delivery her baby without complications . also for the complete recovery for peter and kathy who have had cancer. and for all my family and friends who r grieving and need help and anyone else who is suffering. i thank you in advance .
    god bless ua everyone. amen.

  • Dear Father, A dear friend of mine has just been diagnosed with stage IV cancer. She is in her 50’s and has had much pain in her life. She needs some help. I would gladly accept her pain if you could pray for her. She is such a kind and caring person and I know would like to stay with her family for a while longer. She is so scared and her youngest is so sad. While I know we will all have to go someday, it would be so nice for her if she were allowed a little more happiness in this life. Bless You Father

  • Pls pray for my cleaning and trading company i need a might mirical in jobs and finances also pray for protection for the 2 ladies running the company

  • Dear Father: My daughter, Karen, was operated on Monday August 16th for a Thyroid Cancerous tumor. She was discharged today so am asking for everyone’s prayers for a positive outcome. In addition to her medical problem, she has been out of work and has had little success in obtaining employment despite the fact she has had a very impressive background. Despite all the obstacles, she has never lost faith and constantly places other’s needs before her own. I’m hoping for Father Kapaun’s intercession.
    Bless you Father.

  • Dear Father Kapaun,
    Please intercede for Patsy w/ colon ca. She is a widow in her 40’s with a 16 yr old daughter to raise. The doctors gave her no hope today. Please pray for Jesus to heal her. She is a faithful Catholic & loves God. AMEN