In April of this year I wrote a post about the remarkable POW Servant of God, Father Emil Kapaun, a heroic Catholic Chaplain who died in a Chinese POW camp during the Korean War. Now, and a grateful hattip to reader Rick Lugari, the Vatican is investigating a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Kapaun.
“The Kear family says Kapaun’s role in Chase Kear’s survival 57 years later began about two hours after their son was injured.
Chase, a member of the Hutchinson Community College track team, fell on his head during pole vaulting practice in October.
By the time a helicopter delivered him to Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Francis Campus, his family was already frantically praying as they watched the helicopter land.
Within an hour of that landing, Paula Kear’s sister, Linda Wapelhorst, was asking a priest at St. Francis to perform the Catholic sacrament of anointing the sick, which used to be called last rites.
And she was calling Sacred Heart Church in Colwich, asking people there to get everyone in the church praying to Father Kapaun for help.
In the following days, Grundmeyer and others had told the family that Chase’s skull had been cracked from ear to ear, that his brain was swelling, and that either the surgery to remove a skull piece or the infection that might follow would probably kill him.
Paula and Paul Kear and dozens of other people made regular trips to the chapel at St. Francis to pray, always with the Father Emil Kapaun prayer.
The Kapaun prayer had become a standard for parishioners in Colwich since a priest from the parish had come down with cancer several months before.
“Father Emil Kapaun gave glory to God by following his call to the priesthood and thus serving the people of Kansas and those in the military,” the prayer says. “Father Kapaun, I ask you intercession not only for Chase Kear… but that I too may follow your example of service to God and my neighbor. For the gifts of courage in battle and perseverance of faith, we give you thanks oh Lord.”
What happened next, Grundmeyer said last week, was “a miracle.”
The family agrees. Only a few weeks after Chase broke his skull, he walked out of a rehabilitation hospital, shaken but alive.
His near-complete recovery stunned all the doctors involved, Paul and Paula Kear said.
“Chase survived in part because hundreds of people prayed to Father Emil Kapaun to intercede on his behalf,” Paula Kear said.
“It was absolutely a miracle.”
Chase himself says he has little memory of what happened. For interested visitors, he will calmly part his thick hair with his fingers and show the long semi-circular scar that traverses much of the right side of his scalp.
He’s working a summer job and plans to coach the pole-vaulters at the Hutchinson Community College. He misses vaulting; he’s grateful to Grundmeyer and Kapaun.
“So how does it feel to be a miracle?” his mother asked him last week.
“It feels pretty cool,” he said.”
Father Kapaun could never resist extending aid to everyone he could in life, and I am not surprised at all that he may be carrying on his work after death.