As the sainthood cause for a Vietnam War chaplain gathers momentum, the priest was remembered at a Sept. 4 memorial Mass as a man "completely dedicated to the spiritual care of his Marines."
Father Vincent Capodanno, who died in Vietnam Sept. 4,1967, was one of the "great priest chaplains," said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services in his homily at the Mass, celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
"This annual gathering is to pray for him and to recall his pastoral service as a model for chaplains and priests in general," Archbishop Broglio said. "The cause for his canonization is not for him, but for us. Others should know of his dedication and his desire to serve others. His was a response filled with faith to the Master who laid down his life for the sheep."
Father Capodanno, a Maryknoll priest from NYC and Navy chaplain, died in Operation Swift in the Thang Binh district of the Que Son Valley. He went among the wounded and dying, giving last rites. Wounded in the face and hand, he went to help a wounded corpsman only yards from an enemy machine gun and was killed.
"One way or another, directly or indirectly, we have been touched by the life and ministry of the 'servant of God,' Vincent Capodanno," Archbishop Broglio said.
In his homily, he challenged all given pastoral responsibilities. "That is the constant tension in pastoral ministry: Where do I best use my time and talents, what furthers the mission? It is the mission that is central and not merely my career, or promotion, or whatever," he said.
"To receive the Lord Jesus means to open my heart with generous love. Anyone, young or old, who meets Jesus is inevitably destined to change and to be led to the service of others."
To the Marine veterans gathered at the Mass, the archbishop said, "Is that not why you, fellow Marines of Father Capodanno, have joined us tonight? Some of you have journeyed to be here. You cannot forget the shepherd who was there for you." After the final blessing at Mass, a lone trumpet played "Taps."
Note: Father Capodanno is memorialized in various ways in Staten Island.