During a vespers service on the evening of Tuesday, October 1 Archbishop Broglio presided over an extraordinary event: the formal renewal of the opening of the Cause for Beatification of Father Vincent Robert Capodanno, MM. Father Capodanno, a U.S. Navy Chaplain and Maryknoll priest, died in combat in Vietnam—cut down by enemy gunfire on Sept. 4, 1967 as he administered the sacraments and aided U.S. Marines engaged in “fixed bayonet” combat with North Vietnamese regulars.
Since his death, there have been numerous reports of favors following intercessory prayers to the hero chaplain and Medal of Honor recipient.
Father Capodanno a “Servant of God,” formally initiating the process by which the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints considers candidates. The Cause for Beatification is the next step of the process.
During the prayer service, Archbishop Broglio signed papers making the necessary canonical appointments for a tribunal that will gather evidence of the life and work of Father Capodanno. Monsignor Frank Pugliese signed on as Episcopal Delegate; Monsignor Thomas Olszyk, AMS Judicial Vicar, signed on as Promoter of Justice. The tribunal will work with Dr. Andrea Ambrosi of Rome, an independent legal expert on causes for sainthood. Dr. Ambrosi attended the service.
Tribunal appointees pledged to conduct their deliberations in secret, as required by canon law. To support the body, Archbishop Broglio appointed an Historical Commission to assemble the life story of Father Capodanno from available records and publications; and a Theological Commission to evaluate the priest hero’s correspondence and other writings for doctrinal accuracy. The archbishop appointed several notaries public and copyists to help with the finer details of the tribunal’s work.
The service took place on the Memorial of Saint Therese of Lisieux, who died in France in 1897 at the age of 24. In his homily, Archbishop Broglio said:
“The great saints of the Church are remembered, because they kept their focus on Christ and on living with Him. St. Therese gives us the example of a very little girl who captured that focus early in life and never lost it. Her death at a young age ended the pilgrimage, but the heritage of that short cloistered life continues to nourish the journey of countless men and women.
“Father Capodanno lived only about fourteen more years longer than Therese and yet his memory animates those who knew him and those of us who are learning more about him each day. It is impressive to see those who join us every year for the celebration of the Mass on the anniversary of his dies natalis….
“… What we do this afternoon will bring nothing to Father Capodanno. This is not some posthumous medal. It is for those who will learn about his faith and courage. He gave the utmost so that others might live or at least maintain hope in those last moments of the pilgrimage. It is hoped that his virtues will be imitated and that he will be an intercessor for priest-chaplains in the challenging days ahead.”
Since his death, there have been numerous reports of favors following intercessory prayers to the hero chaplain and Medal of Honor recipient. In 2005, the Catholic Church formally declared Father Capodanno a “Servant of God,” formally initiating the process by which the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints considers candidates. The Cause for Beatification is the next step of the process.