WASHINGTON, D.C.—September Fourth marks 52 years to the day since U.S. Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Father Vincent R. Capodanno, MM, died in a hail of gunfire on a Vietnam battlefield while rushing, unarmed, to the aid of U.S. Marines under ambush. Two events will commemorate the occasion.
1. On Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 6:30 p.m. (EDST), His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, will celebrate the annual Memorial Mass for Father Capodanno in the Crypt Church 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). Some of the surviving Marines who served with Father Capodanno will participate, along with current senior military leaders and active-duty personnel. The public is invited to take part. Arrive early for ensured seating. Media coverage is welcome. EWTN and CatholicTV will broadcast the Mass live.
2. On Sunday, Sept. 1, and again on Wednesday, Sept. 4, EWTN will air the 90-minute docudrama, Called and Chosen: Father Vincent R. Capodanno, about the U.S. Navy chaplain’s extraordinary life and death serving U.S. Marines in combat. The Gabriel award-winning film, a joint production of EWTN and the Father Capodanno Guild and directed by Mr. James C. Kelty, will air Sept. 1 at 1:30 p.m. (EDST) and again Sept. 4 at 4:00 p.m. (EDST). To order a DVD of Called and Chosen: Father Vincent R. Capodanno, go here. Proceeds go to the Father Capodanno Guild.
Additionally, a book published last year, Armed with Faith: the Life of Father Vincent R. Capodanno. MM by Monsignor Stephen M. DiGiovanni, is available on Amazon. Also available on Amazon is The Grunt Padre: the Service and Sacrifice of Father Vincent Robert Capodanno, Vietnam 1966-1967 by Father Daniel L. Mode.
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 anointing the dying and helping the wounded to safety as Marines engaged North Vietnamese regulars 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 Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (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 the late 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. Archbishop Broglio appointed a theological commission, composed of three theologians, who poured over Father Capodanno’s writings, and an historical commission, which pieced together the details of his life history.
On May 21, 2017, at the 23rd annual AMS 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. Anyone with information in support of the Cause of Father Capodanno is asked to contact the Father Capodanno Guild at www.capodannoguild.org or Ms. Mary Preece at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, all are encouraged to participate in the annual Mass for Father Capodanno, either in the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception or live on EWTN or CatholicTV, and watch Called and Chosen: Father Vincent R. Capodanno on EWTN at the above-referenced times.