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Chalice, new medal to honor Kapaun at annual pilgrimage

Staff writer

Interest in the story of Pilsen native Father Emil Kapaun continues to grow after his remains were returned to Kansas last year.

After an 11 a.m. Mass on Kapaun Day this Sunday, John Moore of Gallup, New Mexico, will present a silver chalice to Father Brian Bebak and the Pilsen people. All the dates of Kapaun’s life from birth to identification of his remains and their return to Kansas have been engraved on it, with room for dates of his being named blessed and, hopefully, canonized by the Catholic Church.

Kapaun’s nephew, Ray Kapaun, will present the South Korean Order of Military Medal that Kapaun recently received posthumously.

The new awards, which belong to the Kapaun family, will be displayed with Kapaun’s Medal of Honor in the Chaplain Kapaun Museum.

At least 400 individuals have registered for an annual pilgrimage to Pilsen that will begin Thursday in Wichita. Some will walk the entire 60-mile route, while others will walk one or two of the four days that will conclude Sunday at Pilsen.

The walk will be 22 miles the first day, 13 miles the second day, 16 miles the third day, and 8 miles the final day.

Trevor and Rochelle Siebert walked the entire length last year and are planning to walk it again. They will spend tonight in Wichita in preparation for an early start the next day.

“It’s fun, humbling, and hard,” Rochelle said, “especially if the weather is hot and humid.”

Both said visiting with fellow walkers and hearing where they were from, how they heard about Kapaun, and why they were participating in the pilgrimage was what kept them going mile after mile.

The trip will include daily Mass, opportunities for confession, and pauses for reflections on Kapaun’s life.

“Every three or four miles we stopped for more water and snacks,” Rochelle said. “The stops were called Kapaun Stations. Someone stood in the back of a pickup and spoke, and we said the Father Kapaun prayer or other prayers.”

Each day, participants walk in silence for one hour.

The couple especially enjoyed evenings, when everyone shared a meal, shared stories, and heard from impromptu speakers.

As walkers arrive at Pilsen, parishioners line the road to greet them with cheers and clapping. After cleanup, they take part in an 11 a.m. Mass, and a meal is served to them.

“It was a humbling experience but a very physical task to complete,” Trevor said. “We were motivated to keep going by the stories we heard.”

“Compared to what Father Kapaun went through, Rochelle said “our experience was just a small part of his life.”

They are ready to do it all over again.

Last modified June 2, 2022

 

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