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Honoring “the Grunt Padre” 50 years after his death

“He certainly could be a patron for doing the right thing at the right time,” Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio told Catholic World Report, speaking of Servant of God Father Vincent Capodanno’s willingness to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). In honor of the 50th anniversary of the fallen military chaplain’s death in Vietnam, Archbishop Broglio—head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA—presided at a Mass in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, on September 5, 2017.

More than 650 people attended the Mass. “It was standing-room only,” Mary Preece, vice postulator for the Father Capodanno’s cause, later told CWR“We had a wonderful Mass, attended by many of the Capodanno family members, many of the Marines who served with him in Vietnam, and [a few] Maryknoll priests who knew him personally. We also had more than 50 priests concelebrate with [Archbishop Broglio], because they were here in Washington attending a chaplains’ convocation.”

Fifty years after his death, Father Capodanno is still remembered and well loved. Going well beyond the duties of a chaplain, he came to be known as the “grunt padre” because he willingly shared in all the ordeals of the Marine infantrymen (nicknamed “grunts”). He in turn called them “my Marines.” He kept his homilies down-to-earth and tried to console and guide those young men through harrowing and sometimes morally gray circumstances. But in a time of war, reminded them to pray for their enemies.

“And that’s why he was beloved,” Preece said. “He just embraced them where they were, in their fears and anxieties.” She also described his homilies as “very ecumenical” and spoke of how he appealed to men of all faiths.

Read more at Catholic World Report. 

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