Churches wait for new priest

BROADALBIN – Two local Catholic churches are waiting for a new pastor following the death of Father Neil Draves-Arpaia.

Draves-Arpaia, the 65-year-old pastor of Northville’s St. Francis of Assisi Chuch and Broadalbin’s St. Joseph’s Church, died April 14 following a long illness.

Carmel Greco, a trustee with the St. Joseph Church, said Draves-Arpaia died from an aneurysm or an embolism.

Greco said Draves-Arpaia had been fighting a severe form of colon cancer the past three years, but did not believe it was tied to the cause of death.

Draves-Arpaia became the administrator at St. Francis and St. Joseph’s in 2011, according to Albany Roman Catholic Diocese Communications Director Ken Goldfarb.

According to Goldfarb, Draves-Arpaia graduated from St. Peter’s Academy in 1967. He earned his bachelor’s in English from Marist College in 1971. He prepared for the Roman Catholic priesthood at St. Mary’s Seminary and University, in Baltimore, where he earned a master’s of divinity. Draves-Arpaia was ordained into the Roman Catholic priesthood for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, Ariz., on May 19, 1979, by the Rev. James Rausch, at the Cathedral of Sts. Simon and Jude, Phoenix. He celebrated his first mass on May 27, 1979 at St. Peter’s Parish, Saratoga Springs.

“He was a very learned man,” Greco said.

Over the years, Draves-Arpaia had a varied career. From 1986 through 1991 he taught as adjunct faculty in the School of Education at Boston College. His priestly assignments in the Diocese of Phoenix, included Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Scottsdale, Xavier College Prep, and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, both in Phoenix. He also served on several commissions, boards and committees, including the Albany Diocesan Peace and Justice Commission, the Phoenix Diocesan Liturgy Commission, the board of Catholic Charities of Saratoga, Warren & Washington Counties, the Phoenix Diocese Catholic Charities Advisory Council, the Hispanic Advisory Board for the Diocese of Albany, the Ethics Committee of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Phoenix, and the Albany Diocesan Committee for the Continuing Education of Priests.

Greco described Draves-Arpaia as a kind and focused man.

“He was a rules man, in that he stayed close to the teachings and the doctrines of the church,” Greco said.

Greco said Draves-Arpaia was very focused on traditional prayer and the presentation of it.

“He was very caring as to how the religious services were performed,” Greco said.

“[Draves-Arpaia] was highly respected, very well thought of,” Goldfarb said. “He was a very devoted individual.”

However, Draves-Arpaia was more than just a pastor, Greco said.

“To me, he was very personable, very open and approachable,” Greco said.

Greco and Goldfarb said the churches will require a new reverend.

“I think the first step will be the appointment of an administrator, and then ultimately a [reverend],” Greco said.

Goldfarb said the diocese will look for a permanent replacement, which may take several months. Until then, temporary pastors will fill in for services.