Four Priests for Canonization
From left to right are Fr. Emil Kapaun, Fr. Vincent Capodanno, Blessed Stanley Rother, and Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko. All four were Roman Catholic priests. Two are officially considered martyrs by the Church.
Before I get into the whys of the prayer cards, here is a brief history of each man . . .
Fr. Emil Kapaun was born on April 20, 1916 in Pilsen, Kansas and died on May 23, 1951 as a prisoner of war in Korea. Before serving as a U.S. Army chaplain in Korea, Father Kapaun served as Army chaplain in the Burma Theater of World War II. The Catholic Church has given Fr. Kapaun the title of Servant of God, meaning the Church has officially opened his cause for Sainthood. There are four stages to Sainthood, and Fr. Kapaun is at the first stage. To learn more about Fr. Kapaun and the cause for his Canonization, go here.
Fr. Vincent Capodanno was born on February 13, 1929 in Staten Island, NY. He died September 4, 1967 during combat in Vietnam. Fr. Capodanno was a Maryknoll Missioner who also served as a U.S. Navy chaplain. He was killed in action during the Vietnam War while rushing to administer the sacraments to wounded and dying Marines under enemy attack. The Church has also declared Fr. Capodanno a Servant of God. Like Fr. Kapaun, Fr. Capodanno is at the first stage of Canonizaition. To read more about him and his cause, go here.
Blessed Stanley Rother was born on March 27, 1935 in Okarche, Oklahoma and died on July 28, 1981 in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. Fr. Rother was a priest from the diocese of Oklahoma City. He served in his diocese’s mission in Guatemala from 1968 until 1981 when he was murdered during Guatemala’s bloody civil war. On December 2, 2016, Pope Francis officially recognized Father Rother as a martyr for the faith. He was then Beatified on September 23, 2017. He is the first American-born martyr and the first U.S. priest to be Beatified. He is one step away from Canonization.
Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko was born on September 14, 1947 in a village in Northeastern Poland. He died on Ocboter 19, 1984. He was tortured and executed by three agents of Służba Bezpieczeństwa (the secret police force in communist Poland) for his association with the opposition Solidarity trade union. The cause for his Beatification began in 1997. In 2008 Fr. Popiełuszko was proclaimed a Servant of God. On December 19, 2009, he was recognized as a martyr by Pope Benedict XVI, and on August 6, 2010, Fr. Popiełuszko was Beatified, giving him the title Blessed. He, like Blessed Stanley Rother, is one step away from being declared a saint.
The Canonization process is a long and complicated one. There are four steps in declaring someone a saint in the Church, and their are rigorous tests along the way. You can read more about the process here.
Even before my conversion to Catholicism I was intrigued by the Catholic Saints. There is a saint for everyone—sometimes two or three or more. They come from all walks of life, and they inspire the faithful to live holier lives. More recently I have been focused on the Canonization process, and I rejoice when someone whom I’ve admired is declared a saint—St. Pope John Paul II is a good example. I am now convinced Venerable Fulton Sheen will soon join the ranks of Saints, since a miracle, through his intercession, has just been confirmed.
But why do I focus on these four priests? Well, I feel a special call to pray for priests. This started early on in my life when I was first drawn to the twelve Apostles. I didn’t know it back then because I wasn’t Catholic, but I was in fact being drawn to the priesthood in a unique way, and praying for priests is something important to me.
So, to take that vocation (for a lack of a better word) one step further, I also feel a call to pray for the Canonization of holy priests—especially martyrs. These are four that I am watching and waiting for to be declared saints.
Fr. Emil Kapaun, Fr. Vincent Capodanno, Blessed Stanley Rother, and Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko, please pray for us!