Viatorians bid farewell today to Fr. John Milton, CSV, who had been a member of the community for nearly 70 years and a priest for 65. He died Jan. 24 and was laid to rest in the Viatorian plot at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, IL.
Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV, Provincial, concelebrated the funeral Mass with several Viatorians. It took place in the Province Center chapel, where Fr. Milton had been among the first group of novices to profess first vows there and where in retirement he attended daily Mass.
Well wishers filled the chapel, included many Viatorian associates and professed, as well as Fr. Milton’s family members, former students from Saint Viator HIgh School, colleagues from Cristo Rey St. Martin, parishioners from St. Zachary Parish — where he had celebrated weekend liturgies for 30 years — and members of his small faith group that had been meeting regularly for 40 years.
“To me, John represented a certain stability in an unstable world,” Fr. Hall said. “He was a model for all of us as to what it means to be a deeply spiritual man. I can think of no one more meek and humble of heart, that Jesus describes in our gospel today, than John.”
Fr. Arnold Perham, CSV, offered a second homilly, sharing his memories of Fr. Milton that stretched back to their first day of high school at St. Mel’s in Chicago, in 1943. Fr. Perham was seated behind Fr. Milton (alphabetically) every day for two years and they were even assigned as biology partners.
“John was the smartest kid in the classroom. He exhibited a very calm confidence in himself,” Fr. Perham said of a young Fr. Milton, “and he was always friendly and unprentious.”
Much to Fr. Perham’s disappointment, Fr. Milton was accepted as a scholarship student to Fournier Institute, a selective math and science academy in Lemont, IL, at the start of his junior year. It was there that he met the Viatorians and when he graduated from college, he was named valedictorian.
Their paths would cross again during senior year in college, when Fr. Milton expressed interest in the Viatorians and was invited to the new Novitiate House in Arlington Heights, hosted by the Novice Director, Fr. Frederick Wenthe, CSV. Fr. Perham, who already was a part of the community, was asked to attend.
“For the next 70 years, John and I did what we had started as freshmen at St. Mel’s,” Fr. Perham said.
In closing, Fr. Perham described how he admired his confrere’s deep love of the connection betwen religion and science.
“He had a deep passion for science,” Fr. Perham said, himself a lifelong mathematician. “He looked upon math and science as a language that God expressed in the creation of the cosmos.”