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Fr. Albert Saldanha: A remarkable priest

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

When I was a newly ordained priest, I was riding in a car driven by another who was many years my senior. In our conversation, I told him a story I had read about St. John of the Cross. It seems that John had been seriously misunderstood by others and had endured much suffering as a result. In the end, our Lord appeared to him, and thanked John for his spirit of faith. Then he promised to grant any one wish that John might ask. The little saint asked our Lord: “To be further humiliated and despised for your sake.”

My elderly priest friend, Fr. Albert Saldanha, moaned loudly: “What a terrible wish. Why would John ever ask for that?”

So I asked him: “If you were promised any one wish, what would you ask for?”

His reply has stayed with me all these years. And I must say that it makes more sense to me than the request of St. John of the Cross. Fr. Albert said simply: “I would ask that Jesus might be known and loved by everyone.” I promised him that if I ever told or wrote the story of St. John of the Cross, I would tell Albert’s story, adding some more examples of his own priestly life.

His full name is Alberto Germano Saldanha, son of Vitorino Francisco Saldanha (one of the leading businessmen of East Africa in his time) and of Maria Vitória Conceição da Cruz, from Arrarim in Saligao. He was born on 11th October 1915 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Having concluded his theological course in March 1942 at the Rachol Seminary in Goa, Albert was ordained priest at Rachol Seminary Church on 3rd October 1942 by Patriarch D. José da Costa Nunes. Fr. Albert celebrated his first Mass at Mae de Deus Church in Saligao on 1st November 1942. He was then appointed Curate at Assagao (1943-1946); at Immaculate Conception Church, Pune (1949-1952); and, finally, as Parish Priest at St. Lawrence Church, Sinquerim (1952-1991). He brought out a commemorative souvenir on St. Lawrence Parish, Sinquerim (1688-1988), which is one of the best. Consequently he retired to his home at DeMelovaddo in Saligao after 39 years of service at Sinquerim.

Fr. Albert was the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Saligao Church Centenary Celebrations (1873-1973) and a Souvenir of Mae de Deus, Saligao was brought out on that occasion.

Fr Albert Saldanha died on 10th November 1999. At the funeral Mass his two nephews Fr. Desmond D’Souza, CSsR, and Fr. Julian Saldanha, SJ, spoke. In the funeral oration, Fr. Desmond said: “Fr. Albert visited the prisoners at Aguada Jail and when a notorious criminal was released he came to see Fr. Albert in Saligao. While returning home the criminal was smiling, obviously helped with money by Fr. Albert. He was generous always, without asking for anything in return. He showed mercy and generosity towards others.”

Fr. Julian said at the beginning of the Mass: “He helped quite some people in the Seminary and gave to the parish donations for the prayer room at Saligao Church. His contribution to the Sinquerim Church was notorious — he made the church into a tourist spot!!”

He donated his house to the Franciscan Hospitallers of the Immaculate Conception (FHIC) and was instrumental in seeing the two homes for the aged in Cotula, Saligao, handed over to the Franciscan Missionaries of Christ the King.  May the memory of Fr. Albert Saldanha never die.

2 comments on Fr. Albert Saldanha: A remarkable priest

  • Higino Miranda

    Hello Sr. Padre,

    What a pleasure I had when I read the article on Pe. Alberto, I have been several times to his place with my mom and Aunt, Also his brother in Mombasa (if I am not mistake was called Hipolito) and his wife Lira were called by us as Papa and Mama Sara.
    Once again you Sr. Padre has taken me to a precious nostalgic journey.

    Keep up the hard dedicated and good work.

    With Best Wishes

  • Lea mathias

    Lyra Saldhana was my aunt and I would very much want to visit her husbands grave in Mombasa while I am ther I.e. 21st June to 3rd July..will appreciate this..Higgins, if you will remember me…lea

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