Father Ariel Robles greets parishioners following a July 18 Mass in Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, West Trenton, Mike Ehrmann photo
Father Ariel Robles greets parishioners following a July 18 Mass in Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, West Trenton, Mike Ehrmann photo
" Everything is God' work. Everything is grace. "

It might be said that the seeds of Father Ariel Robles’ vocation to the priesthood trace back to his birth.

As Father Robles explains, “In 1969, there was a one-year old baby boy in the Philippines who was seriously ill. His mother was distressed knowing she could lose her baby anytime. The father, in his strong faith, went to Quiapo church in Manila to pray to the miraculous image of Jesus called ‘The Black Nazarene.’ He walked on his knees, a custom in the Philippines, on the aisle toward the altar begging the Lord to heal his son. His prayer was heard, the baby was cured and grew up to be a healthy young man.

“I was that baby boy,” said Father Ariel F. Robles, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, West Trenton.

And on the occasion of his 25 years in the priesthood, he speaks with joy that “The Lord cured me and gave me a second chance to live.

“In gratitude, I offer back my life by serving him as priest. To God be the glory!”

The now 53-year-old Father Robles was one of six children born to Rene and Corazon Robles in Malolos, Philippines. 

He attended schools in the Philippines and began his preparation for the priesthood in1984, when he entered Immaculate Conception Seminary, earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.  He went on to Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila, and received a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology in 1995. Father Robles was ordained in Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Manilla, Philippines, July 31, 1996.

Upon his ordination, Father Robles served as a professor and later as dean of studies in Immaculate Conception Seminary in the Philippines. He also served as a parochial vicar in several parishes in his home diocese from 1996 to 1998 and again from 2003 to 2007.

In 2008, Father Robles arrived in the United States and served as parochial vicar in St. James Parish, Red Bank, during which time he also pursued post-graduate studies in Seton Hall University, South Orange, where he obtained his MA degree major in Sacred Scriptures in 2012. Following the death of long-time pastor Msgr. Philip A. Lowery in 2019, Father Robles took on the role of parish administrator and remained there until July 2020, when he became pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish.

As he reflects on his priesthood, Robles remains committed to bringing Jesus to those he serves, something he believes is his greatest accomplishment.

“The people can give a priest so many compliments: ‘Father, you’re a very good manager’ ….  ‘Father, you give good homilies’…  but the greatest compliment I have ever received was this: ‘Father, thank you for always giving me Jesus.’

“Giving Jesus to the people, – that is the essence of the priesthood, and that is what I learned for the past 25 years as a priest,” he said. “A priest may be an excellent speaker, or a good manager, or he may be good at handling big projects, but if he fails to give Jesus to the people, then his priesthood is a failure. Mother Teresa put it so well when she said to the priests: ‘Give us Jesus, only Jesus, always Jesus.’”

Father Robles shared that whatever blessings his priesthood has brought the people in the Diocese of Trenton is all due to God’s glory and grace.

“Everything is God’s work. Everything is grace,” he said of his 12 years in St. James Parish and now at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish. “Whatever little things I did for these two parishes are not my achievements, but God’s.”

Father Robles’ humility is matched by his sense of gratitude to those who have provided guidance and support. 

“I am very thankful to Bishop David O’Connell, the late Msgr. Philip Lowery, and my brother priests with whom I worked in Red Bank, for trusting and helping me reach where I am now.”