|4/24/2014 9:01:00 AM|
Rev. Neil J. Draves-Arpaia, 65
A funeral Mass was offered April 22 at St. Peter's Church, Saratoga Springs, for Rev. (Cornelius) Neil J. Draves-Arpaia, who died April 14. He was 65 and had been a priest for 35 years.
A native of Saratoga Springs, he worked for the Saratoga Springs Police Department and as student advocate for the Saratoga Springs Junior and Senior High Schools before his ordination to the priesthood for the Diocese of Phoenix, Ariz.
He had many assignments for the Phoenix Diocese at parishes, schools and medical centers; he also served as director of continuing education for clergy, assisted in Mexican parishes and spoke on spirituality. From 1986-91, he taught at Boston College.
Father Draves-Arpaia became an internationally-known retreat director and spent 30 years leading retreats and parish missions in the U.S. and Canada. He published two collections of intercessory prayers, "Graciously Hear Us" and "Come Light Our Hearts."
From 2005-12, he directed whole-community catechesis for St. Clement's parish in Saratoga. He was Catholic sacramental minister for Skidmore College there and chaplain for the city's fire department. In 2012, he was appointed administrator of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Northville and St. Joseph's in Broadalbin.
Father Draves-Arpaia wrote many thoughts for his obituary, noting that his "greatest love" was "celebrating the Eucharist for God's people and proclaiming the good news that God is rich in mercy." His heart's desire, he said, was "to be a priest to the honor and glory of God and the good of the Church."
In 2006, in describing his work with children at St. Clement's parish, he told The Evangelist, "There is a link between the Eucharist and justice in our world. When we receive communion, we are empowered to go out and serve the world. I believe in introducing children early to these issues to help others."
Father Draves-Arpaia's long and varied career seems to have fulfilled his fervent desire to live out his vocation. May God receive him joyfully into heaven.
Survivors include his mother, Rose Arpey, and sister, Nadine Draves, both of Saratoga Springs.
Interment was in St. Peter's Cemetery, Saratoga.
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