Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Sunday, September 3, 2017
Delighted so see EWTN recently aired a film on the life of Father Vincent Capodanno, the Grunt Padre. Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of his death in Vietnam.
His dad emigrated from Italy and met his mom in Brooklyn. They married, and later, they moved to Staten Island. They were a wonderful Italian family – center was family and faith. On Vincent’s 10th birthday, his dad suddenly died, and his mom had 9 children to care for. All pitched in. As Vincent grew older, he began to think on the priesthood – as a missionary. He entered Maryknoll in Ossining and was ordained in 1958. He was sent to Taiwan for 6 years, and then to Hong Kong. But he was not settled. He wanted to go where he was really needed. He asked permission to enter the Chaplains Corps. In April 1966, he was sent as chaplain to the Marines in Da Nang, Vietnam.
There he became the best known and most sought after Chaplain. They called him the Grunt Padre because he was one of them, with them everywhere. While serving his Marines, they noticed his deep respect for the Vietnamese people. He never picked up a gun, but he was engaged in warfare – for the souls of all he met.
On this day, today, 50 years ago, he offered 3 Masses for his marines. Then he went with them to battle. They were vastly outnumbered that day. It was said that if you received 3 purple hearts, you would be sent home. First, Father Vincent was wounded in the hand. Later, the shoulder, Finally, while trying to help a corpsmans, he was shot 27 times. He was sent home. Later, for trying to save so many lives that day, he would receive our nation’s highest honor – The Medal of Honor.
Peter said – no crosses – Jesus says, sometimes you must pick up your cross and follow me.
So many crosses – so many that we all carry – sickness, money, care for elderly, children, work.
We continue on – we pick up our crosses and keep going!
Sixteen years ago, a Franciscan priest preached a homily to a group of firefighters, men and women who see and carry the cross each day.
He said: “That’s the way it is. Good days. And bad days. Up days. And down days. Sad days. Happy days. But never a boring day on this job. You do what God has called you to do. You show up. You put one foot in front of another. You get on the rig and you go out and do your job – which is a mystery. And a surprise. You have no idea when you get on that rig. No matter how big the call. No matter how small. You have no idea what God is calling you to. But He needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us. Father Mychal Judge, first casualty 9/11. His last homily – 9/10 2001.
Jesus told Peter – get behind me – we get behind Him – we get behind Jesus as we carry our crosses – for we know that this is the way that leads to the kingdom.