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Veteran’s Day, 2015  Mary Frances Skinner

First of all, I want to take this opportunity to say, THANK YOU, to our veterans, to those who are currently serving our country, and to the families who also sacrifice so much while their loved ones serve all around the world to protect our freedoms. You are ALL heroes to me. 

Secondly, I want to talk about the hero that our diocese is celebrating this year, Fr. Emil Kapaun. Fr. Kapaun, as most of you know, was a Kansas farm boy, a priest for diocese of Wichita, and a chaplain in the Army.  He died as a prisoner in the Korean War. Our Bishop Kemme was in Rome, just two days ago, to help the Church decide if Fr. Kapaun should be declared a Saint. Fr. Kapaun did many heroic and saintly things in his short life. He courageously put himself in peril to save a wounded soldier who was about to be shot by the enemy, he tirelessly served the other prisoners by washing their clothes, giving them food, and doing the filthiest of tasks. He was treated like an animal, but treated everyone like the child of God that they are. He not only served others above himself, but he prayed with them, encouraged them, and was always filled with God’s joy. If he were still alive today, he would be 100 years old next April. And so our diocese has named this The Year of Fr. Kapaun, One Hundred Years of Joy.

In creating the sculpture of Fr. Kapaun, I wanted to portray a man of faith and a man of joy. I made everything, even his helmet, out of clay, and it took me a long time, because I’m still just a beginner at sculpting. I donated it to the school as a thank you for all that my family has received while my five kids attended here. You may know my oldest, Thomas, he’s in the seminary and visits the classrooms sometimes. When he was three years old he said he wanted to go to school at “Blased Sacovich.” So thank you to all the teachers and staff who gave of yourselves to our family, as we all grew in age, wisdom and faith. Thank you also to Mark Vanderpool for making such a beautiful base for the sculpture. I wanted this sculpture to be an inspiration to everyone at Blessed Sacrament, especially to be filled with joy. I worked from the photo in which Fr Kapaun was almost laughing because the end of his pipe was shot off while in his mouth. Father Kapaun lived and served through much worse conditions than I can imagine. And he did so with joy. We all have struggles too. Hopefully seeing him smiling outside the school office, will help us all be joyful in all that we do.

I found a homily that Fr. Kapaun gave in 1942. He was a new priest, kind of like Fr. Curtis. He said that we know people in different ways. We know people by WHAT THEY ARE, such as: American, 7 years old, 77 years old. We know people by WHAT THEY DO: a student, a soldier, a teacher, a husband, a grandparent, an artist. We know people by HOW THEY DO WHAT THEY DO: lazy, hardworking, honest, courageous, apathetic, generous, joyful. When pondering his words, I thought how well he lived out what God called him to be: PRIEST, SOLDIER, AND SERVANT. How well he did everything that he did. He lived as another Christ. He did everything with joy. 

So, finally, I have some questions for you. What is God calling you to be? How do you do what you do? Are you courageous? Are you generous? Do you serve others above yourself? DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO WITH JOY? 

Perhaps the key is a line from the Novena Prayer, “Lord Jesus,…your servant, Chaplain Emil Kapaun, SPENT HIMSELF IN TOTAL SERVICE TO YOU…” Let’s celebrate the Year of Fr. Kapaun, One Hundred Years of Joy, by doing all that we do in total service to God! 

Fr. Kapaun pray for us.

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