Vincent R. Capodanno is a Servent of God which is the first step to being canonized. Capodanno was born in Staten Island, New York, on February 13, 1929. He entered the Maryknoll Missionary Seminary in Ossining, New York and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in June of 1957.
Father Capodanno’s first missionary assignment as a priest was in the Mountains of Taiwan where he served for seven years as a parish priest and then later at a Maryknoll school in Hong Kong.
God gave Fr. Vincent Capodanno a desire for challenge and so implanted in his soul the desire to become a Navy Chaplain and in December of 1965, Fr. Capodanno received his commission as a lieutenant in the Navy Chaplain Corps. He was assigned to the 7th Marines, in Vietnam, in 1966.
While serving with the marines he gained a reputation of always being there and taking care of “his” Marines. Capodanno lived with the soldiers and suffered through the same conditions they did therefore gaining the nickname, “The Grunt Padre”. He administered the sacraments, The Mass and the Eucharist, he heard confessions for hours on end without taking a break the efforts he made for his marines instilled a strong courage to fight in the men. His mere presence among them became enough to lift the morale of all on patrol.
When Capodanno’s tour was complete, he requested an extension to stay with his marines. Fr. Capodanno shortly served in the naval hospital and then reported to the 5th Marines.
On September 4, 1967, Fr. Capodanno’s battalion of 500 men encountered a large North Vietnamese unit of approximately 2500 men near the village of Dong Son. The outnumbered and disorganized battalion was in need of reinforcements. By 9:14 am, twenty-six Marines were confirmed dead and another company of Marines was committed to the battle. At 9:25 am, the commander of 1st Battalion 5th Marine requested further reinforcements.
During the battle Fr. Capodanno went among the cross fire to the wounded and dying soliders, giving last rites and taking care of his Marines. While on the field Fr. Capodanno was wounded once in the face and his hand was almost severed but nothing would stop him from being with his men in their last hour to comfort them. After giving last rights to a soldier he saw a wounded corpsman only yards from an enemy machine gun and went to help. While administering the sacrament of last rights to a soldier Fr. Capodanno was killed by enemy fire from the machine gun.
In recognition of his selfless sacrifice Fr. Vincent Capodanno was awarded the Medal of Honor and on May 19, 2002, Capodanno’s Cause for Canonization was officially opened, and so he is now referred to as a Servant of God.