WASHINGTON, D.C. – This September marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Father Vincent R. Capodanno, M.M., Servant of God, on a Vietnam battlefield. Two major events will commemorate the occasion.
On Aug. 30 at 10:00 p.m. (EDST), EWTN will premiere a new 90-minute documentary, Called and Chosen-Father Vincent R. Capodanno, about the U.S. Navy chaplain’s extraordinary life and death serving with U.S. combat Marines. The premiere will follow an 8:00 p.m. panel discussion hosted by Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J. The panel will include Mr. Jim Kelty, producer of the new film; Mr. George Phillips, USMC (Ret.), Board Chairman of the Father Capodanno Guild; and Ms. Mary Preece, Vice-Postulator of Father Capodanno’s Cause for canonization.
On Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m., His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, will celebrate the annual Mass for Father Capodanno in the crypt of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Michigan Avenue, Northeast, Washington, D.C. The Mass will be concelebrated by dozens of priests from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). Many of the surviving Marines who served with Father Capodanno will participate, along with current senior military leaders and active-duty personnel.
Ever faithful to his vocation, Father Capodanno, a Maryknoll priest from Staten Island, N.Y., died at the age of 38 on September 4, 1967, while rushing to administer the sacraments to Marines under enemy ambush in Vietnam’s Quế Sơn Valley. Father Capodanno received the Medal of Honor posthumously on January 7, 1969.
Since his death, there have been numerous reports of favors following intercessory prayers to the hero chaplain. He was declared a “Servant of God” in 2006 by the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the request of then Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, the Most Reverend Edwin F. O’Brien, clearing the way for his Cause to go forward.
Archbishop Broglio, who took the helm of the AMS, in 2008, formally opened the Cause of Father Capodanno on Oct. 1, 2013, when he appointed a tribunal to conduct its inquiry into whether the priest hero lived a “life of heroic virtue.” For three and a half years, under the direction of Msgr. Frank Pugliese, the Episcopal Delegate, and Msgr. Thomas Olszyk, the Promoter of Justice, the tribunal pursued its mission in painstaking detail, gathering facts on Father Capodanno, interviewing witnesses including many of those who knew him, and collecting relevant documents. The tribunal appointed a theological commission, composed of three theologians, who poured over his writings, and an historical commission, which pieced together the details of his life history.
On May 21, at the 23rd annual Memorial Mass in Washington, Archbishop Broglio declared the archdiocesan phase of the Cause closed. The decision cleared the way for the tribunal’s findings to go to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for review and a possible decision on whether to advance the Cause to the next stage of consideration.
If the Congregation for the Causes of Saints decides to move the case forward, the next step would be to declare Father Capodanno a “Venerable Servant of God” while the Church further considers whether to list him among the saints.
Meanwhile, everyone is encouraged to watch Called and Chosen-Father Vincent R. Capodanno Aug. 30 on EWTN and to participate in the Sept. 5 anniversary Mass at the National Shrine in Washington.