WASHINGTON, D.C.—Like Hurricane Dorian, life’s storms come and go, but prayerful followers of Christ need not fear. That was a central theme of Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio’s homily on Wednesday evening, Sept. 4, at the annual Memorial Mass for Vietnam War hero Father Vincent R. Capodanno, M.M. (1929-1967).
“Storms as powerful as Dorian today or the next hurricane to be stirred up, cause us to wonder, to be overcome with anxiety, and to begin to look away,” His Excellency observed. “That is when we must remember that the Lord is with us as the Head of the Church. His guidance and power are sufficient even in the worst of storms, be they of weather, adversity, scandal, or challenge.”
Archbishop Broglio extolled Father Capodanno as a role model for believers in times of adversity and trial, such as the sea storm Christ calmed for the Apostles in St. Matthew’s Gospel. In Vietnam’s Quế Sơn Valley on Sept. 4, 1967, Father Capodanno, a 38-year-old Maryknoll from Staten Island, NY, braved a storm of bullets while rushing—unarmed—to the aid of wounded and dying Marines under ambush until he himself was shot to death. He is remembered as the “grunt padre” because of his easy friendship with the enlistees or “grunts” who fought on the frontlines and for whom he laid down his life. Father Capodanno received the Medal of Honor posthumously on January 7, 1969, and the Holy See’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints is now considering the Servant of God’s Cause for canonization.
The Memorial Mass, celebrated annually on the anniversary of Father Capodanno’s heroic death, took place, as usual, in the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The all-pews-filled congregation of more than 400 comprised some of the surviving Marines who were with Father Capodanno that fateful day, members of the slain priest’s family, senior U.S. Military leaders, active-duty and retired service personnel, a group of midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy, and dozens of Catholic military chaplains gathered in Washington for a biennial priest convocation sponsored by the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). A Knights of Columbus (K of C) color guard escorted the priestly processions to and from the altar, and a Navy bugler, Musician-Petty Officer First Class Ethan Bartley, sounded taps to close the Mass, which EWTN and CatholicTV carried live.
“We are drawn by a great priest who was faithful to his vocation,” Archbishop Broglio said. “… Remember that in the daily fulfillment of your duties, dear brother priests. Fidelity to the priesthood of Jesus Christ comes before everything else. Each of us here wants to learn from him to hear the gentle voice of God. In the taxicab, in the shrine, in the myriad activities of every day, we strive to learn how to hear and respond to the Lord in that gentle breeze.”
To read the full text of Archbishop Broglio’s homily, go here.