The Augustinian Recollects and the Diocese of Newark bid farewell to Bishop David Arias
Last Thursday, May 16, after a four-hourvigil and the funeral Mass, the crypt of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Newark (New Jersey, United States) received the mortal remains of the Augustinian Recollect David Arias, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Newark, in a ceremony that was broadcast live on social networks.
Previously, on Wednesday, May 15, the faithful of the Church of St. Joseph of Palisades in the town of West New York, also in New Jersey, where Arias resided, were able to see the body of the deceased bishop and pray for his eternal rest in a funeral Mass.
Bishop David Arias Pérez died on May 9 at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck (New Jersey). He was born in 1929 in Mataluenga (Leon, Spain) and was 89 years old at the time of his death.
In 1941 he entered the minor seminary of the Augustinian Recollects in San Sebastian (Guipúzcoa) and in 1947 in the novitiate of Monachil (Granada, Spain), where he professed as an Augustinian Recollect in 1948 and in 1951 made solemn vows.
He was ordained a priest during the 35th International Eucharistic Congress of Barcelona in 1952 and from that moment began a broad ministry inSpain (one year), Mexico (eight years), Rome (one year) and, during the remaining 56 years of his life, in the United States.
In his first destination he was a professor of the seminarians ofSaint Rita School, where he himself had studied, in San Sebastian. He then went on to serve in the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Mexico City, as parochial vicar and chaplain of the Regina College of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. In Mexico he also began the apostolate of the pen, with contributions and articles in various magazines, something that would accompany him the rest of his life.
In 1963 he was sent to study Spiritual Theology at the Teresianum Institute in Rome. Once graduated, he returned to the United States, a country that he would adopt as a place of life, vocation and service until the end of his life.
Arias moved in very different social and pastoral ministries within the United States. Before studying in Rome, he had briefly served in the parishes ofFabens and Marfa, in Texas, dedicated to the apostolate ministry in a rural area. On his return from Rome, he was sent to theMonastery of St. Augustine in Kansas City, as a teacher and prefect of the professed, he was dedicated to the formation of religious.
After 1967, he dedicated himself completely to pastoral work with Hispanics in an urban environment. He worked intensely at Saint Joseph’s Center inNew York, headquarters of the Cursillo Movement; First he was the director (1967-1968) and, later, director and spiritual adviser (1969-1978).
He combined pastoral ministry with governance service in the Province of St. Augustine of the AugustinianRecollects, as counselor (1972-1975) and Vicar of the Province (1978-1982).
In 1978 the Archdiocese of New York named him director of the Hispanic Ministry, full time, with residency at Saint Joseph’s Center in New York (1978-1983).
At age 54, on April 7, 1983, he was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Newark, New Jersey, United States, and Episcopal Vicar forHispanic Affairs (1983-2004). After his retirement he resided as Bishop Emeritus in Saint Joseph of Palisades, West New York (New Jersey).
His episcopal motto was Pascere Populum Suum (To Shepherd his People). The Church commissioned him to care for Hispanic immigrants in the United States, to whom he dedicated his life.
From his first contact with Hispanics in Texas, he had the intuition to accompany immigrants, mostly Mexicans in that place, because of their traditionsand devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
In New York he extended his heart to all the Latin American countries, he promoted their values and their culture, celebrated their patron saint festivities and sought to unite all in one in the same celebration, with special attention to Hispanic Day.
He received thousands of Hispanics in the Cursillo Movement, he accompanied them in their formation, growth and perseverance through the Luz y Vida Program (1971), one of his most important contributions to the Church.
In fact, Arias was a key piece in the expansion of the Cursillos throughout the United States. His appointment as Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar for Hispanic Affairs ratified his dedication to the Hispanics living in the United States.
In his ministry he combined the word with his writings, as attested by his numerous publications : Novena to the Virgin of Guadalupe and Novena to the Virgin of Lourdes (1960); Manual labor in Augustinian Monasticism(1964); Light and Life, an evangelization program based on biblical dialogues for lay people in their homes (1971); New presence, a study of sociological and pastoral research on Hispanics in New Jersey (1987); Spanish Roots of America, the Hispanic presence in the United States from 1492 to 2000 (1992 and 2004); Spanish Cross in Georgia , on Catholic missions in Georgia from 1567 to 1702 (1994); Protagonists Hispanics in the United States (1996); The Hispanic Roots of the United States since 1942 to 2002 ...
One of his last works has been his own autobiographical memoirs, titled The Days of myLife. Other works of Arias available in digital format are The Martyrs of the United States (161 pages), The First Catholics of the United States (273 pages) or Spanish American Headlines (309 pages). It addresses important aspects of the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, of the missionaries who planted the Catholic faith in those lands, or of the Hispanic reality of the United States and the importance of the Hispanic culture in that society.