The article asks: Is the Kapaun community up to the challenge? | Hillsboro Star Journal


The article asks: Is the Kapaun community up to the challenge?


A 22-page article by award-winning writer Stan Finger in a Kansas Leadership Council magazine questions whether Pilsen, Marion and the Diocese of Wichita can work together to prepare Pilsen for a greater influx of visitors if Chaplain Emil Kapaun is canonized.

The article notes a growing interest among faithful Catholics and some Protestants to visit Kapaun’s hometown since he was declared a Servant of God, thus beginning the process, in 1993.

More and more people are coming to Pilsen to see the church, visit the Kapaun museum and hear its history.

An annual pilgrimage from Wichita to Pilsen each June has increased each time and had to be limited to 400 participants this year.

“As Kapaun becomes more and more revered, the more difficult it can become for Pilsen to manage the roles and responsibilities that come with being his hometown,” Finger wrote. “But too much change in Pilsen is also unwelcome, as it could undermine the powerful story the city is capable of telling about the life of the chaplain.”

Potential needs include a better road to Pilsen, a new Kapaun museum, and accommodation and food.

A new museum, on land adjacent to the grounds of St. John Nepomucene Church and already owned by the Diocese of Wichita, could potentially bring Kapaun’s remains to Pilsen to be placed in a national shrine within the museum.

“The Marion County commission has hired a consultant to explore how best to prepare for the increased number of tourists,” Finger wrote after speaking with Commissioner David Mueller.

Finger quoted Marion’s director of economic development Randy Collett as saying that motel developers say the traffic on US-56 isn’t heavy enough to merit a motel.

Dining establishments in Marion are often not open during normal hours, a situation that townspeople are not used to, the article continued, citing Historic Elgin hotel owner Tammy Ensey.

None of these things are a problem in Wichita, where Kapaun’s remains are in a crypt inside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Scott Carter, director of the Father Kapaun Guild, told Finger that Pilsen will remain the keeper of most of the information and artifacts on Kapaun.

Finger spoke to people who run a national shrine in Wisconsin. They said it was important to keep Pilsen rural and avoid turning it into a commercial site.

A former events coordinator at the shrine said the charm and beauty of coming to the site is that it is in a rural setting.

“People are looking for comfort in their lives,” she said. “They are looking for a beautiful rural atmosphere to come and practice their faith and consider the miracles of their faith… and really escape somehow the savagery of the world.”


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