Father John A. Apel, SJ, died Jan. 1, 2023, in St. Louis. He was 85 years old, a Jesuit for 66 years and a priest for 53 years.
A welcoming and much-loved figure at Saint Louis University, he will be remembered in a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis. Visitation will precede the Mass in the church, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery immediately after the funeral.
John A. Apel was born Feb 22, 1937, in Marcus, Iowa, to John and Rosa (Dalhoff) Apel. 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.
He entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) on Aug. 8, 1956, at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Mo., 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, Neb., 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, Mo. 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 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, Ore., where he remained for two years. From 2010 to 2012, he served in pastoral ministry on the Spokane Indian Reservation and Umatilla Indian Reservation, in Spokane, Wash.
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 of Science degree in chemistry/math-physics at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., and a master’s degree in theology at Saint Louis University. He did additional studies in science at the University of Colorado.
We remember with gratitude all that God has done through Fr. Apel’s life of service to God and God’s people.
Memorial gifts may be made to the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus at 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 or through this website.