First Posted: 8/3/2014
Father Bill Appel remembers sitting in a pew at Gate of Heaven Church, Dallas, as a fourth grader and receiving God’s calling to a life of service as a priest.
Mass today, Aug. 10, will provide an opportunity for Appel to offer thanksgiving in that same church, which is the custom after the ordination of a new priest.
Although several decades have passed since his initial calling, Appel’s mission is still the same – to serve God’s people through a life dedicated to ministry and service.
Appel brings a multitude of diverse and interesting experiences with him as he begins his vocational life. A 1994 graduate of Dallas High School, he went on to graduate from Penn State University with a degree in engineering.
Reflecting a commitment to both God and country, he then served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years, attending Navy Flight School and becoming a helicopter pilot.
In anticipation of spiritual service, Appel completed studies at St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, in 2008, attaining a degree in philosophy.
Appel’s final preparation for ministry was completed at the Pontifical North American College in Rome in 2010. He was ordained as a priest on June 21, 2014, at the Basilica of the Assumption in Covingtonm Kentucky.
He believes the church is thriving in the midst of financial and public relations challenges.
“People have left the Catholic church for other churches with wide-screen monitors and contemporary music bands,” he said. “They are returning because of sound doctrine and theology.”
Appel also reflects on the traditions of the church that keep families close and provide a wholesome style of living.
“I remember serving as an altar boy under Father Cusick and attending Masses said by Father Benedict at Misericordia chapel,” he said.
Appel especially looks forward to bringing the Eucharist to congregants of Gate of Heaven, many of whom are residents of the Back Mountain and have been long-time friends and neighbors.
He believes church attendance and receiving of the sacraments are the life blood of those who espouse the Catholic faith.
Appel believes the church has provided a foundation for the lives of those it services, and he is looking to the future of the church with renewed hope.
“The Pontifical North American College is filled with young men willing to selflessly give their lives in service,” he said. “I believe there are an increasing number of young men who share that desire for selfless ministry and service.”
He credits recent popes with bringing a relevant message to the church’s young people including Saint John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.
“Church documents are consistently being updated and presented,” said Appel. “The Catholic Church is moving forward, addressing contemporary issues.”
Now assigned to Blessed Sacrament parish in Fort Mitchell, Ky., where many family members reside, Appel is looking forward to travelling to Rome in September to further his theological studies, hoping to grow in both knowledge and faith.