Vatican miracle investigator at work

Practically in the NCR backyard, a Vatican miracle investigator is visiting Colwich, Kan., to look into claims of a healing attributed to the intercession of Fr. Emil Kapaun, a U.S. Army chaplain from Pilsen, Kan., who died in a prisoner of war camp during the Korean War.

Last year 20-year-old Chase Kear sustained head injuries in a pole vaulting accident during a track meet. (Kear's doctor said the young man's "skull had been cracked from ear to ear.") His chances of survival were very low. His family and parish began praying to Fr. Kapaun for help.

According to the local paper, "Only a few weeks after Chase broke his skull, he walked out of a rehabilitation hospital, shaken but alive. His near-complete recovery stunned all the doctors involved."

The Wichita diocese formerly began the canonization process for Fr. Kapuan last year, but in 1993 Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien -- now of Baltimore but then head of the military archdiocese -- began work for Fr. Kapaun to receive the title of servant of God.

The Vatican investigator, Andrea Ambrosi, was to arrive in Wichita today. He will look at the Kear case and probably two others.

The local paper reports: "Soldiers came out of prisoner-of-war camps in 1953 with incredible stories about Kapaun's heroism and faith. ... stealing food for prisoners, ministering to the sick, saying the rosary for soldiers, defying guards' attempts to indoctrinate soldiers, making pots and pans out of roofing tin so that soldiers could boil snow into drinking water and boil lice out of their filthy clothing."

He died in in the camp in May 1951.

Here's the prayer the Catholics in Wichita use: "Father Emil Kapaun gave glory to God by following his call to the priesthood and thus serving the people of Kansas and those in the military. Father Kapaun, I ask you intercession not only for [insert your intention] but that I too may follow your example of service to God and my neighbor. For the gifts of courage in battle and perseverance of faith, we give you thanks oh Lord."

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