Perth priest Fr Milton Arias was recently farewelled during a funeral service in his home Diocese of Valledupar, Columbia. Fr Milton passed away on 8 August 2022.
In an interview with The Record for his ordination to the priesthood in 2003, Fr Milton said he felt very privileged that God has called him.
“I have been shown Christ’s mercy, forgiven my sins and am very grateful.”
The Record publishes that interview with Fr Milton as a special tribute to his life and service to the Archdiocese of Perth,
“My name is Milton Arias. I come from Colombia, am 27 years old and the only child from a Catholic family. I was ordained to the Diaconate on July 11 this year and I have completed my formation and studies here in Perth.
Since I was little, I thought that my vocation was to look after my parents. As I started to grow, I discovered that this situation was affecting me a lot because I was a very insecure person who struggled even to make the smallest decision.
I remember how my friends used to make fun of me because I was never allowed to go out for parties, and this really made me suffer.
In those years I could not be bothered about vocation because my parents were giving me whatever they could, so I felt I needed nothing from anyone. At this moment too my head was full of projects of becoming someone.
This is when I decided to study medicine, but it meant moving out into another city and I really did not want to be away from the family home, so I gave it a miss.
Afterwards I began my studies as a Mechanical Engineer so that I could become involved in the racing car business, but I had to study it in another country, so this plan was also shattered.
After these two failures I was a bit angry with myself and I decided to work and enjoy life. It was at this point that my mother invited me to listen to some adult catechesis of the Neocatechumenal Way given in my parish and I went, just to placate her, because every year she would invite me and I would give her the same answer “may be next year.”
For me, this was like a wake-up call that Christ sent to me because I was starting to make a mess of my life. In that catechesis, too, I saw the Church as a mother who came to offer me the possibility to experience real life and not the dreams I had in mind.
This was manifested in a community formed with a different kind of people who I had not previously met but who made me feel welcomed and where I was able to sense the risen Christ speaking to each one of us.
After a few years walking with this community, I began to think seriously about marriage. In fact, there were some girls in that community who told me I was not their type to marry. It is amazing to see how God has a funny sense of humour because I never thought of becoming a priest.
Even the fact of thinking about it made me laugh. Then I had my own excuse, I am an only child so, humanly speaking, I could not become a priest. In 1992 coming back from work, I was invited to the World Youth Day meeting in Denver with Pope John Paul II but I did not attend. Later in the same year, there was a meeting with all the young people in my country and there I heard a priest saying that when God calls there is no way to escape his call.
This was the starting point of my vocation to the priesthood. I must say I had millions of doubts about my vocation, but those doubts helped me realise that this was truly a call from God and not just another idea I had in my mind.
Also, I have seen that really God had that particular plan for me and most of all, he has given me the possibility to be happy doing his will.
I have seen also the blessings I have received and I am a witness too that what Christ says in the Gospel about leaving everything behind and following him is true because when I left home, I thought that was going to be the end of the world.
But I discovered that God did not cheat me because he has rewarded me by learning to
speak English and also to live surrounded by families who have opened their homes to welcome me and made me feel I am not alone.
Finally I can say that God has been really good with me because I have seen how he has provided for my family, the seminary, this Archdiocese and also me.”