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Walking for Father and son

Staff writer

Their family’s deep connection to Father Emil Kapaun brought Tim, Julie, and Michael Barclay from Beavercreek, Ohio, to walk from Peabody to Pilsen as part of this year’s Father Kapaun pilgrimage.

So did Kapaun’s meaning to a son who died in October from three forms of leukemia.

John Paul Barclay was diagnosed in February, 2021, with a rare form of leukemia and died eight months later on Oct. 26 — the same day family and friends had planned a prayer vigil for him.

During John Paul’s journey through worsening illness to eventual death, Father Kapaun held special meaning to the family.

Tim spent 14 years in the Air Force, and Michael is in the Army National Guard, although his basic training was delayed because of his brother’s illness.

The family prayed for Father Kapaun’s intercession every night while John Paul was sick.

Before John Paul died, Tim showed him a video about the priest’s life.

“He told us one night, ‘I don’t think it’s for me to be here. I think it’s for me to suffer,’” Tim recalled. “I didn’t understand it at the time.”

Himself diagnosed with kidney cancer a month after John Paul died, Tim had surgery for the cancer, then days before the pilgrimage, had another surgery to remove a kidney stone.

When Tim was diagnosed, he had used nearly all of his sick days because of John Paul’s illness. The family set priorities on the places they wanted to go. Pilsen was at the top of the list.

Tim’s surgeon, who had heard of Father Kapaun while he served in Germany, initially suggested Tim wait a year before undertaking the walk, but he moved his surgery schedule around to get Tim done in time.

“I think because we shared about Father Kapaun, he worked with us,” Julie said.

The family drove 13 hours to reach Pilsen, leaving Ohio on Thursday to reach Pilsen on Friday before a volunteer took them to Peabody.

Tim’s level of pain made the walk to Pilsen even more difficult. That’s not to mention slogging through mud and torrential rain and enduring a detour because of deep mud that made the hike even longer.

Tim used two walking sticks, and the family lagged toward the end of the group of 280 walkers.

By the time the Barclays reached camp Saturday night, Tim was in a lot of pain. The walk was a lot harder than he thought it would be.

People Julie knows gave her prayer intention to lift up.

“I guess I’m hoping to be more like my son and Father Kapaun,” she said.

Michael, whose trip was on short notice, said he offered up the pain of the walk in memory of his brother and Father Kapaun.

“With the pain and going through that, spending time out in the rain is nothing compared to that,” Michael said.

The pilgrimage was something the Barclays needed as a family, he said. It built community with them.

“Not like we haven’t had enough challenge as a family,” Tim said.

Last modified June 9, 2022

 

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