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Obituary | Father John Apel, SJ

Fr. Apel
Father John Apel, SJ, died Jan. 1 in St. Louis. He was 85 years old, a Jesuit for 66 years and a priest for 53 years. A Mass of Christian burial was to be celebrated Jan. 7 at St. Francis Xavier “College” Church in St. Louis.

John Apel was born Feb. 22, 1937, in Marcus, Iowa, to John and Rosa (Dalhoff) Apel.

He entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) on Aug. 8, 1956, at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant and pronounced first vows there on Aug. 15, 1958. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 6, 1969, at St. John’s Parish in Omaha, Nebraska, and pronounced final vows on April 22, 1976, at De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis.

Father Apel began teaching in 1963 at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri. Following his ordination, he was assigned to De Smet, where he taught chemistry and math. In 1979, he returned to Rockhurst, where he taught chemistry and theology and served as rector.

In 1985, he was assigned to St. Stephen’s Mission on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, where he served in pastoral ministry to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho communities for 12 years.

He returned to St. Louis as pastoral assistant for the former Missouri Province from 1997 to 2002. He then returned to the high school classroom at Regis Jesuit High School in Denver, where he taught Latin and science, while also serving in pastoral direction in the Girls Division and as superior of the Jesuit community.

Following a sabbatical, he was assigned in 2008 as associate pastor at the St. Andrew Mission in Pendleton, Oregon, where he remained for two years. From 2010-12, he served in pastoral ministry on the Spokane Indian Reservation and Umatilla Indian Reservation in Spokane, Washington.

Father Apel moved to the Jesuit Hall Community at Saint Louis University in 2012. He became a much recognized and beloved figure on the Saint Louis University campus, as he made himself available to students. As his health declined last year, he began a ministry of prayer.

Father Apel earned a bachelor’s in chemistry/math-physics at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, and a master’s in theology at Saint Louis University.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his parents, John and Rosa (Dalhoff) Apel, his sister Rosalene Kessenich and his brother, N. James Bradley. He is survived by his sister Marie Gadd and several nieces and nephews.

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