• Last modified 35 days ago (April 18, 2024)


Longtime Kapaun guide steps down

Staff writer

Harriett Bina, tour guide at Pilsen’s Father Kapaun Museum, retired from the position April 4.

“I guess it was time,” Bina said.

She’s not happy about giving up a part of her life that has been so meaningful to her.

Melissa Stuchlik, who often has given museum tours and talks about the chaplain, will take over the tasks Bina leaves behind.

Volunteers continue to work in the museum gift shop.

Looking back, Bina said, her life has been entwined with the life of Father Emil Kapaun since she was 8 years old.

Her parents moved the family from Iowa after a traumatic childhood event in which another child died. They knew she needed a new place to be able to recover.

“I first heard his story when I was 8 years old,” Bina said.

Father Kapaun comforted her then during his life just as he has comforted many people since his death.

“He’s been my hero since I was pretty young,” she said. “He will continue to be so.”

The best thing about her years as a tour guide and museum volunteer was learning how Father Kapaun affected other people’s lives.

“Getting to meet these people who come to see it,” she said. “Hearing about all the people whom Father Kapaun interceded for.”

She remembers being given papers about Father Kapaun’s intervention with a child who had leukemia. The child was healed.

One time, a protestant minister who also had been a military chaplain brought her a cross from a military chapel named after Father Kapaun.

The priest was never one to favor Catholic soldiers.

“In that prison camp, Father Kapaun took care of people of all faiths,” Bina said.

Visitors have come from all over the nation and world and from all religious backgrounds.

“The thing I’m going to miss the most are all the people of all faiths, and hearing all their stories,” Bina said. “The prisoners of war have all said he stood for everyone else.”

Retiring from her tour guide duties will give her time to get caught up on things she hasn’t been able to do because of being on call so often to give tours.

After that, she’ll do things to give her pleasure.

“I’m going to do some writing, like I want to do,” Bina said. “I’m writing up some stories that people have told me along the way.”

Last modified April 18, 2024