More than 220 people attended Veterans’ Day mass Friday at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Pilsen. None was happier to be there than John Moore, who had just come to the end of a remarkable pilgrimage honoring Pilsen native and former Army chaplain Father Emil Kapaun.
“To be blessed enough to carry this crucifix as far as I did, 630 miles over 40 days, and to be able to honor Father Kapaun, our veterans and military, to be able to honor the community here in Pilsen, I’ve been blessed and humbled by that,” Moore said.
Moore had to cover 11 miles the final day of his walk, jogging the final three miles to arrive in time for the service.
“When I walked in that door I was the most amazed person of all that I made it,” Moore said.
Moore was humbled by the reception he received from the Pilsen community.
“I compare it to the story of Jesus when he entered Jerusalem and they were putting palms in front of him, getting a hero’s welcome,” Moore said. “I can relate to that story with the reception I’ve received here in Pilsen.”
Moore was inspired to make his pilgrimage when he read a story about Kapaun in a Knights of Columbus magazine.
“Sixty years, they’re still honoring Father Kapaun, they’re still loving, and they’re still working for him,” Moore said. “That must have been a special person, these must be special people.”
Moore was equally impressed with the church sanctuary.
“I haven’t seen the Vatican, but this is the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen. Maybe they have some more ornate or beautiful, but you can tell this is a special church,” Moore said.
Moore was not the only high-profile visitor Friday. The mass was led by the Most Rev. Neal J. Buckon, bishop for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, which serves 1.5 million Catholic service members in 220 military installations around the world.
Buckon praised the service of Kapaun and expressed support for efforts to have the former Army chaplain canonized.
“Saints inspire by the example of their lives. We live in hope this will soon happen,” Buckon said.
“Father Kapaun ought to be a great source of pride for this church, for this community, for the Diocese of Wichita,” Buckon said.