Friday, April 21, 2017

Servant of God and Marine

Vincent Robert Capodanno was born in 1929 in Staten Island, New York and was awarded the Medal of Honor for “...conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Chaplain of the 3d Battalion, in connection with operations against enemy forces.” (Medal of Honor Citation for Fr. Capodanno) 

Vincent Capodanno was the 10th son of Vincent and Rachel Capodanno, Italian immigrants in New York. He had three brothers who served in World War II and this experience instilled in him a strong sense of patriotism that complimented his deep faith in God and love of his Catholic faith, a faith demonstrated by daily mass attendance before high school classes and during his short time at Fordham University. 

After little over a year at Fordham University, Vincent Capodanno followed the call of God and entered the Maryknoll Missionary Seminary in Ossining, New York. After nine years of vigorous formation, he was ordained a priest on June 14, 1958, by Cardinal Spellman, then Archbishop of New York. From there he would travel to Taiwan to minister to the native Taiwanese by administering the sacraments, teaching native catechists and providing food and medicine to those in need. After his missionary assignments in Hong Kong and Taiwan, he petitioned his Maryknoll superiors to be released for a vocation as a military chaplain. In 1965 they granted his request and he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on December 28, 1965. 

His first assignment was to the 1st Battalion 7th Marines in Vietnam, an assignment he began on Holy Week in 1966. During this assignment, he focused on the young enlisted troops and was their constant companion. He spent his days reassuring them, consoling them and giving them spiritual guidance and grace. He loved this work and upon completion of his first tour of duty in April 1967 he requested an extension. His extension was granted and in June of 1967, he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. 

It was in this division that Father Capodanno would follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and give his life for others. On September 4, 1967, Father Capodanno and his fellow Marines encountered the enemy at 0430 in the morning near the village of Dong Son in the Que Son Valley. By 0915 26 marines had been confirmed dead and their commander was requesting reinforcements. Throughout the devastating battle Fr. Capodanno valiantly moved among the battle lines both helping injured Marines to safety and providing last rites and comfort to the wounded and dying. After having been wounded by an exploded mortar round and losing a portion of his right hand Fr. Capodanno refused medical treatment and instead continued to serve his Marines. He encountered a wounded medic and despite his position 15 yards from an enemy machine gunner, Fr. Capodanno rushed to provide aid to the mortally wounded medic and was killed by 27 bullets from the enemy machine gunner. Fr. Capodanno died in the service of God and his fellow Marines not only upholding the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service but bringing the light of Christ to his fellow Marines in times of great darkness. 
Father Capodanno was awarded the Medal of Honor on January 7, 1969, and was declared a Servant of God by the Catholic Church on May 21, 2006. A Sainthood cause has been opened for Father Capodanno.

God of peace, You who weep
at the violence and wars between your children,
help us to walk in the footsteps of your Son.
In our darkest hour be our light
and show us the way to help those in greatest need.
Draw to Yourself those innocent victims who
find themselves surrounded by danger and destruction.
Hear the prayers of all who cry out to you for deliverance.
Through the intercession of Vincent Capodanno, Servant of God,
grant strength to the weak, courage to the fearful
and hope to those who mourn.
Above all, direct our hands this day to reach out and comfort
all who yearn for the coming of Your kingdom on earth.

Fr. Capodanno, Pray for us.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Saint Peter Julian Eymard

Peter Julian Eymard was born in 1811 in LaMure, France and is known for his deep devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist, a devotion which was manifested itself in his early childhood years. When he was 5 years old he vanished from his home only to be found by his sisters in the local parish church standing in front of the tabernacle of the high altar. When asked what he was doing, he told his sisters, “I am here listening to Jesus” 

As a teenager, he worked for his father’ business making cutlery. Peter Julian wanted to become a priest but his father, having lost 8 children, did not want his only remaining son to become a priest. Following his father's death at age 18 he answered the call of God and joined the seminary at age 18. On July 20, 1834, after completing his training in the seminary he, was ordained a priest in the diocese of Grenoble at age 23. He served in this capacity until August 20, 1839, at which time he entered the religious life and professed vows in the Society of Mary, an order popularly known as the Marists. It was as a Marist priest that the devotion to the Eucharist he had since youth would flourish. 

Although he was naturally drawn to contemplation, he was known as a devoted and energetic priest who was an educator and an exceptional preacher. In his journeys around France, he would encounter various manifestations of eucharistic piety that were popular at that time in France. Although he had a busy schedule supporting lay organizations, preaching extensively and educating the laity, the eucharistic devotions he encountered allowed him to express his contemplative nature. Being drawn closer and closer to the Eucharist his primary calling from God became clear in May of 1845. During a Eucharistic Procession in Lyons, he had an intense encounter with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament that would resolve him to “bring all the world to the knowledge and love of our Lord; to preach nothing but Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ eucharistic.” This devotion to the Eucharist and promoting what the Second Vatican Council would eventually call the “source and summit” of the Catholic Faith, eventually led Peter Julian to leave the Marist Order with the intent of founding a religious congregation dedicated to the Eucharist.

In May of 1856, after having proposed a Eucharistic community focused on evangelizing those estranged from the Church to the Bishop of Paris, Father Eymard was granted approval for his order. Peter Julian focused on the working class men of Paris and attracted many followers. Working with the poor laborers of Paris presented Peter Julian the unique challenge of not being able to provide food or shelter for the members of his community. By God’s blessing, they were supported by a neighboring convent and he was able to continue his mission. In 1858 in collaboration with Marguerite Guillot he founded a congregation for women known as the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. His work continued until his death in 1868. Peter Julian Eymard was canonized a saint in 1962.

Gracious God of our ancestors,
you led Peter Julian Eymard, 
like Jacob in times past,
on a journey of faith.
Under the guidance of your gentle Spirit,
Peter Julian discovered the gift of love in the Eucharist
which your son Jesus offered for the hungers of humanity.
Grant that we may celebrate this mystery worthily, adore it profoundly,
and proclaim it prophetically for your greater glory. Amen.