Both my father and brother were in the military. My father enlisted in the Navy during WWII and survived the sinking of the carrier, USS Princeton. My brother has been in the Army for over 20 years (four years active, the remainder the the Guard or Reserves), just completing his secound tour in Iraq. Four of my five uncles were in the military, along with several of my aunts and great-aunts.
Awhile back, a cousin of mine did a play that dealt a great deal with my uncle, who had served in Korea. Not having known this uncle very well, it was a unique way to gain some insight into his life. And into the Korean War that seemed to permeate so many aspects of his life decades after he laid down his gun.
It was timely that a Carmelite Sister gave me a holy card of Father Emil Kapaun, Servant of God, just last week. In that time, I've looked into Father Kapaun's life, especially since he served in the Army in Korea, just like my uncle. One as a priest, one as a rough and tough sniper.
Oddly, through watching the play my cousin did on her father and read the info on Father Kapaun, I feel as if I've gained some insight into these two men and have a better, albeit quite limited, understanding of what they went through during their time in Korea.
Father Kapaun, was born in Pilsen, Kansas in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas on Holy Thursday, April 20, 1916. He was ordained as a Priest for the Diocese on June 9, 1940 and entered the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps in 1944.
Separated from the service in 1946, he re-entered the Army in 1948 and was sent to Japan the following year.
In July of 1950 Father Kapaun was ordered to Korea. On November 2 of that same year he was taken as a prisoner of war. In the seven months in prison, Father Kapaun spent himself in heroic service to his fellow prisoners without regard for race, color or creed.
To this there is testimony of men of all faiths. Ignoring his own ill health, he nursed the sick and wounded until a blood clot in his leg prevented his daily rounds. Moved to a so-called hospital, but denied medical assistance, his death soon followed on May 23, 1951.
The Diocese of Wichita and the Vatican have begun the formal process that could lead to Father Kapaun's canonization. In 1993, it was announced that Fr. Kapaun would receive the title of "Servant of God". Source
The other holy card Sister gave me contained St. Therese's Prayer for Priests. In this Year of the Priest, it is good to pray for all our priests, especially those who gave their lives living out their vocation.
A Prayer for Priests
(said daily by S. Therese of Liseux)
‘O Holy Father, may the torrents of love flowing from the sacred wounds of Thy Divine Son bring forth priests like unto the beloved disciple John who stood at the foot of the Cross; priests: who as a pledge of Thine own most tender love will lovingly give Thy Divine Son to the souls of men.
May Thy priests be faithful guardians of Thy Church, as John was of Mary, whom he received into his house. Taught by this loving Mother who suffered so much on Calvary, may they display a mother’s care and thoughtfulness towards Thy children. May they teach souls to enter into close union with Thee through Mary who, as the Gate of Heaven, is specially the guardian of the treasures of Thy Divine Heart.
Give us priests who are on fire, and who are true children of Mary, priests who will give Jesus to souls with the same tenderness and care with which Mary carried the Little Child of Bethlehem.
Mother of sorrows and of love, out of compassion for Thy beloved Son, open in our hearts deep wells of love, so that we may console Him and give Him a generation of priests formed in thy school and having all the tender thoughtfulness of thine own spotless love.’