Last week, we celebrated the feasts of All Saints and that of All Souls. Those annual feasts of the Church remind us to pray for our relatives and friends who have died. The month of November is dedicated to the Poor Souls and all the faithful departed whom we pray rest in peace. I encourage you to make some extra time this month to pray for all the dead. I invite you to place the names of your deceased family members and friends in the Remembrance Book located near the baptismal fount in church. We are praying especially in November for all those listed in the book.
This Friday, November 11, we will be reminded that one hundred and four years ago in 1918, on the 11th month of the 11th day at 11:00 am an armistice was signed to end the First World War, “The war to end all wars!” President Woodrow Wilson called on the country to remember those who had died in the nation’s service. He invited America to “show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” As we all know, the world was soon plunged into an even greater war in 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland and soon the nations of the world were fighting the Second World War. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine and many other wars have followed in various other troubled places throughout the globe.
As we celebrate Masses this month, I ask that you pray for the thousands who have died in war and those who continue to suffer, especially in Ukraine. You are encouraged to join us for a special Mass for Veterans Day this Friday at the 1:15 pm Mass with light refreshments after the Mass in the church lower-level auditorium. If you have ever been in war, you know the tragic consequences of evil in our world. If you have ever visited Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery outside Joliet or another national cemetery or battlefield in this country or elsewhere, you know the sobering reality of looking at thousands of graves and realizing most of them are for men and women in their teens, 20’s and 30’s when they died. They are the young and energetic people whose full potential was cut down by the horror of war.
As we come together this weekend and all during this month, let us pray for our men and women who have given so much for our freedom. Pray also for those innocent civilians who have died as a result of war. Let us pray for peace in our world. As we celebrate Veterans Day this year, let us remember all those who have served and those who are presently serving in the Armed Forces, in Veterans Hospitals and everyone who is working to promote peace in our world.
The consequences and traumatic experiences of many service men and women continue to haunt many even after they return to civilian life. As Fr. Ed McKenzie, OFM (a member of the Franciscan Staff at St. Peter's and a veteran himself) has shared via previous bulletins and on our church website, the organization Military Outreach, USA is helping provide apartment essentials for the VA program of rent subsidy that helps move homeless veterans into apartments. More information on what you can do to help will be found in our church bulletin, website or by contacting Fr. Ed here at St. Peter's (312-372-5111).
Anyone who has ever served in the military knows that since the beginning of our country, clergy have helped serve the spiritual needs of those in the Armed Forces. Chaplains served in the Revolutionary War, Civil War and countless other conflicts. Many members of the Sacred Heart Province of Franciscans have served in various chaplaincies throughout the world, both in peace and war times. Four Franciscan priest chaplains of the Province died during World War II. Fr. Patrick Maloney died in 1943 at Ft. Custer, Battle Creek, MI. Fr. Alexander O'Donnell died in 1945 as a result of injuries received in France. Fr. Elwin Bina was killed March 1945 in the Aleutian Islands as he was going to celebrate Mass for servicemen at an isolated base. Fr. Myles O'Toole was wounded and while giving the Last Rites to other soldiers was killed by an artillery shell on Luzon, Philippine Islands in January, 1945.
Many other priests have courageously served as chaplains. Fr. Emil Kapaun, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, served during the Korean War and died in a POW camp in North Korea. Fr. Vincent Capodanno, a member of the Maryknoll Missionaries, was killed in Vietnam serving as chaplain to the Marines. Both of these priests received numerous awards and both are recipients of the US Medal of Honor. The cause for canonization for both these priests has been taken up by the Vatican for their heroic service to others.
The remains of Fr. Kapaun were identified in March 2020 and returned to Wichita in September. After a funeral Mass, his remains were buried in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. Fr. Kapaun served as an Army chaplain during World War II and the Korean War. He was taken as a prisoner of war to North Korea in 1951 and ministered to other soldiers until his death, at age 35, in May of that same year. In 1993, Kapaun was declared a Servant of God, the first step toward sainthood. In 2013, Kapaun was awarded the Medal of Honor by the U.S. Government for his actions at the Battle of Unsan.
Fr. Vincent Capodanno was on his second tour of duty as military chaplain when he was killed ministering to soldiers in Quang Tín Province, Vietnam on September 4, 1967. He was 38 years old at the time of his death. Fr. Capodanno was awarded the Medal of Honor by the US government in 1969 and is buried on Staten Island, New York.
If you are interested in learning more about Fr. Kapaun or Fr. Capodanno you will find more details in the following books - The Miracle of Father Kapaun by Roy Wenzl & Travis Heying and Armed With Faith: The Life of Father Vincent Capodanno, MM by Stephan M, DiGiovanni. You can also find more information on the website of the Diocese of Wichita for Fr. Kapaun and for Fr. Capodanno on the website for the Archdiocese For the Military Services, USA.
NATIONAL VOCATION AWARENESS WEEK - 2022
This week (Nov. 7-13) throughout the USA, dioceses and religious communities are asking all members of the Church to pray that young people of the Church may respond to God's call to serve as priests, deacons or consecrated religious priest, sister or brother. For more information and ideas contact the Archdiocese at: chicagopriest.com/resources/national-vocation-awareness-week or for Religious life: US-6 OFM, Franciscan Vocation Office at: [email protected]
If you have not already voted please do so this Tuesday, November 8. Your vote DOES count! Our nation has been beset by dangerous onslaughts to our prized freedoms the past few years. The growing lack of civility, unwillingness to seek common ground and compromise continues to keep us from truly being a model of democracy. We all have a responsibility to promote peace not only in the world but also here within our own country.
When weapons designed for war and killing are readily obtained by anyone, when violence is the first response of disagreements between others, when children and adults cannot freely live even in their own neighborhoods without fear of being attacked, injured or even killed, each of us as citizens and as people who are called to respect all of life must do whatever we can to insure respect for others. As we vote, let us also call those who are voted in to serve in government to do all they can to promote laws and an environment where all of us who live here in the USA are safe and respectful of others. Freedom also demands respect for one another.
Let each of us work to preserve our nation so that everyone in our land is respected. The veterans we honor on November 11 served to help preserve our country. Let us honor their sacrifices to do all we can to also preserve our democracy. Let us call one another to accountability and not dishonor the many who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their life to ensure we truly are a nation of just laws and respect for others.