Emil Joseph Kapaun was a Catholic priest and U.S. Army Chaplain born in the small Czech farming community of Pilsen, Kansas, on Holy Thursday, April 20, 1916. Growing up he was much like any other hardworking farm boy, but he was especially mindful of God and others. At first feeling the call to become a missionary priest, under the direction of his local parish priest he decided to enter the seminary for the Diocese of Wichita and was ordained a priest on June 9, 1940. After a few years of service in the Diocese, he answered the call for chaplains during World War II and entered the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps in 1944. After traversing thousands of miles to serve the troops in Burma and India, he returned home from the service in 1946. After two years he re-entered the Army in 1948 and was sent to Japan the following year.
On April 11, 2013, Chaplain Kapaun was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama. Only one of 5 chaplains to receive the nation's highest award, he is also the most decorated chaplain in U.S. history. The Church continues to seek honors for Father Kapaun, as the Diocese of Wichita and the Vatican have begun the formal process that could lead to Father Kapaun's Canonization as a saint. In 1993, it was announced that Father Kapaun would receive the title of "Servant of God". In late 2015, the "Positio" on his life and virtues was presented to the Congregation for Saints at the Vatican, which began to review it in 2016. If the Congregation and the Holy Father declare that Kapaun lived with certainty a life of Heroic Virtue, he will be given the title "Venerable", and the door will be opened to review the potential miracle attributed to his intercession needed for his Beatification. After this takes place, another miracle will be required for his Canonization.