As Goa still comes to terms with the irreplaceable loss of the much loved Fr Alban D’Souza, tributes have been pouring in from all quarters. Fr Roland Coelho sj, reflects on the life of Fr Alban and his legacy that will live on forever
ll those who encountered Fr. Alban D’Souza would know him as a kind and loving priest. He enjoyed the company of people and spread laughter and cheer everywhere. His ready wit and the ease with which he mingled with everyone, made the young and the old feel at home with him. Although big in stature, he was gentle in his ways.
Fr. Alban was born on 6th February 1952 in Nairobi (Kenya), to Austin and Antonette D’Souza. The family returned to their roots in Tivim, Goa, and Alban was sent to study at St. Paul’s School, Belgaum. He did well, usually standing within the top ten in his class. Alban enjoyed his school years. From a school lad, Alban made a transition by entering the Jesuit Novitiate, at Xavier Training College, Desur, in 1969. The lures of the world were attractive, yet Alban decided to answer the call to live a life of service as a priest. This first stage of Jesuit priestly formation is the novitiate and after two years, he took his First Vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience in 1971. From there he went to study the humanities, art, and culture for a year at Vinayalaya, Mumbai. He studied philosophy and theology at De Nobili College in Pune. In between, he worked as a school teacher and a hostel prefect at St. Britto School, Mapusa, and later at Loyola High School, Margao.
The village of Tivim in Goa welcomed Alban back to his hometown where he was ordained a priest on 8 May 1982. His first assignment was to St. Xavier’s, Kolhapur, where he served as an acting parish priest in the Church, teacher in the school, and minister of the Jesuit house. In 1983, he worked for a year as a teacher at Loyola, Margao, and as the Principal of the Night School. Noticing his abilities in education, his superiors sent him to the Nirmala Institute of Education in Altinho, Goa, to complete his degree in education. With the B.ed degree firmly under his belt, he continued teaching at Loyola, Margao, and later at St. Paul’s, Belgaum. Simultaneously, he worked with the youth in the evenings and on weekends.
From 1992, Alban made a change from school education to the training of youth. As the Director of the Lights of the World Movement, he travelled from North to South Goa conducting development programmes for young people in higher secondary schools and in colleges. His sessions were interactive and lively. He realized that he had the gift of training others and so he went to Loyola University, Maryland, where he worked hard for a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counselling.
Qualified as a Counsellor, Alban began training programmes for lay counsellors. While working with students and youth groups and organizations, he compiled a book titled, “A Facilitator’s Handbook”. This book could be easily adapted by facilitators and resource persons working with youth.
Over the past year Alban had been battling illness with grace, acceptance, and peace. Treatment, diagnoses, operations, and more treatment had taken a toll on his health. Through all this, Alban had not lost that twinkle in his eye. He knew there were many good souls praying for his recovery. Recently he published yet another book titled, “The Beginner’s Handbook for Resource Persons and Trainers”.
Alban has done well in educating young people, administering in schools, preaching in churches, helping people to develop themselves, and training others to become lay counselors/trainers. After a period of prolonged illness, Fr. Alban breathed his last on 15th March, 2019 in Belgaum. May the Almighty grant him eternal rest!