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Wichita, Kansas Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception & tomb of Fr. Emil Kapaun

About the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, Kansas

The first Catholic church was constructed in Wichita in 1872 and the Cathedral parish was founded in 1887.  It is also known as Saint Mary’s Cathedral.  Although the Cathedral is famous in its own right, it is perhaps most notable for the tomb of Father Emil Kapaun.

About Father Emil Kapaun:

During the next four months, Chaplain Kapaun tended to his chaplaincy duties with fierce devotion. All the while he experienced first-hand the horrors of the Korean War: hundreds of dead and wounded soldiers, men utterly exhausted and shellshocked from battle, South Korean refugees fleeing their homes, extreme heat and mosquitoes in summer and wet, rainy days during the fall, frequent lack of sleep and food, and the constant nerve-racking noise and confusion of battle.

Given the gravity of the situation on the ground, Father Kapaun spurred into action, and for four months, he tended to hundreds of dead and wounded soldiers amid extreme heat and torrential rain. Father Kapaun risked his life to offer the sacraments to troops hidden in fox holes, carrying wounded soldiers on his back and burying the dead — from both sides — at the height of the Korean War. He also took time to write personal letters to families of servicemen who had died, to offer loved ones the knowledge that their child or spouse had died with the consolation of the last rites — and with a priest at his side..

He quickly earned a reputation for being a fearless soldier who risked his life to minister to the men fighting on the front lines. Brushes of death were extremely common for the chaplain priest. Coming under enemy fire while rescuing his men, he barely escaped a sniper who knocked his tobacco pipe out of his mouth.  On another occasion, he lost all of his possessions, including his Mass kit and Jeep. After this, he always carried the Blessed Sacrament and the vessels for Mass on his body, along with his confession stole and holy oils.

Along with praying with men in foxholes and saying Mass on the battlefield (oftentimes using the hood of his Jeep as the altar), Chaplain Kapaun would risk his life to administer the sacraments to the dying, to retrieve wounded soldiers, and to bury the dead- ally and enemy alike.

Captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp (basically a death sentence for many soldiers) he continued to minister to his fellow captives.

His remains were sent to the punchbowl cemetery in Hawaii.  They were later discovered there and returned to his home town of Wichita.  He was proclaimed Servant of God in 2013 by Pope John Paul II, the first step on the road to Sainthood.

You can read more about Servant of God Emil Kapaun here.


Finding the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, Kansas

Address: 430 N Broadway St, Wichita, KS 67202

Tel: +1 (316) 263-6574

Click here for the official website of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, Kansas.


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