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The Making of a Would-Be Kansas Saint

St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Pilsen, Kansas, where Father Emil Kapaun first served as a priest. (Photo by J. Schafer)

Father Emil Kapaun lived a short but extraordinary life. He went from serving as a small town Catholic priest on the plains of Kansas to serving as a U.S. Army chaplain on the battlefields of World War II and Korea. Fr. Kapaun spent seven months as a prisoner of war in North Korea and in 1951, died in that POW camp. He was just 35-years-old. But that's not where his story ended. Nearly 70 years after his death, the Marion County man is set to become the first saint from Kansas. The story of that process is captured in a book titled The Saint Makers. Written by Joe Drape, an award-winning sportswriter for the New York Times, The Saint Makers tells the story of this priest from Pilsen and why the Vatican has already declared him a Servant of God. Joe Drape grew up attending Catholic schools in Kansas City, but KPR's J. Schafer reached him by phone at his home in New York.

Joe Drape is an award-winning sportswriter for the New York Times and author of the new book The Saint Makers, about the effort to make a small town priest the first saint from Kansas. He was speaking with KPR's J. Schafer. Father Kapaun, whose remains were identified earlier this year, was laid in Wichita on Wednesday.

Drape is the best-selling author of several books, including Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen.

The Saint Makers

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