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5/2/2007 Local faculty author finds book at Vatican

McMINNVILLE - Bill Apel had the surprise of his life while window shopping at the Vatican bookstore in January. There, displayed in the front window, was a copy of his book, "Signs of Peace - The Interfaith Letters of Thomas Merton."

"I was speechless," said Apel, professor of religious studies, who spent the month in Italy leading "Pilgrimage to Italy: Sacred Ways, Past and Present," a January Term class. "I was very surprised and happy to see it there. It was something that I didn't expect at all."

Though Apel has seen his book in other stores, he said it never occurred to him to look in the Vatican bookstore. In fact, it was only on his second visit to the bookstore that he noticed it. The book has received favorable coverage since its publication in 2006, including a major review in "America," a weekly Catholic magazine. Apel has also been invited to speak about his book, most recently in Vancouver, B.C.

"Signs of Peace" includes excerpts from letters between Thomas Merton, a Catholic Trappist monk, and nine of his interfaith friends. Merton, a well-known religious writer who broke ground as a pioneer in interfaith dialogue, believed that the wisdom and practices of other religious traditions could help him become a better human being, Christian and monk.

In addition to "Signs of Peace," Apel is also the author of "Witnesses Before Dawn" and "Silent Conversations." At Linfield since 1975, Apel holds a B.A. with honors from Muskingum College, a M.Div. from Garrett Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in the history and literature of religions from Northwestern University. He served as Linfield College chaplain from 1975 to 1995. He is a member of the International Thomas Merton Society and the International Bonhoeffer Society.