Above, Brian Bergkamp’s last Facebook profile picture depicted him in the Maroon Bells peaks of the White River National Forest in central Colorado doing what he loved best: spending time outdoors with friends. Below, Visitors to Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri, are greeted by a 'Wall of Heroes,' featuring alumni who died for others. Hero seminarian Bergkamp of Garden Plain, Kansas, joins Father Stanley Rother, killed by Church foes in Guatemala in 1981, and Army chaplain Father Emil Kapaun, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic death in the Korean War. Also below, Seminarian Bergkamp was active in promoting civil rights for all, including the right to life and religious freedom. A repeated participant in Washington’s March for Life, he also joined several thousand people who rallied outside the Kansas Statehouse on June 29, 2012, to protest the federal contraception mandate. Bergkamp drowned in the Arkansas River in Wichita, Kansas, July 9 after saving the life of another kayaker by throwing her a life jacket. His body was recovered two weeks later. This life jacket and tangled rosary were the last poignant signs of the hero seminarian’s struggle, found on July 30.
– Facebook photos; life jacket and rosary, Facebook photo courtesy of Chris Anaya; seminarian photo courtesy of Wichita Diocese; 'Wall of Heroes' courtesy of Conception Seminary College
As students checked into Conception College Seminary near Maryville, Missouri, this fall, they walked past a new “wall of heroes” — three large, framed photos of seminary alumni who died for others.
One is Father Stanley Rother, who was gunned down by a death squad in 1981 Guatemala. Another is Father Emil Kapaun, in the Army chaplain’s uniform that brought him to his heroic death in 1951 Korea.
The third is Mr. Brian Bergkamp.
At first, the 24-year-old grinning face of the seminarian doesn’t seem to fit in with the two seasoned priests.
Then you hear how he died last summer in Wichita, Kansas.
“On July 9, 2016, while kayaking on the Arkansas River, the turbulent waters grabbed hold...READ MORE