Archbishop Albert D’Souza- A person with divine mission and a dream


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By Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle

Moodubelle, 14 February 2010: Coming from a large and devout family, Archbishop Albert D’Souza has made Moodubelle proud with his phenomenal rise in the church hierarchy and far reaching achievements in North India, first as the Bishop of the Diocese of Lucknow and later as the Archbishop of the Agra Archdiocese that covers three North Indian States-Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhnad and Rajasthan. Archbishop Albert D’Souza’s journey from Moodubelle to Mumbai and later to Lucknow, Rome and back to Lucknow and finally to the present ecclesiastical position as the Archbishop of Agra Archdiocese is remarkable and divinely ordained. He is a person with a divine mission to strengthen the Catholic faith in North India and a dream to promote harmony among people of different faiths.

Albert was born on 4th August 1945 as the eighth child of late Emmanuel (Monnu Master) and Magdalene D’Souza of Kattingeri. Among a dozen siblings, four brothers including Albert have become priests and among four sisters two had joined religious congregation. Rev. Dr. Alphonse S.J. has been the Bishop of Raiganj in West Bengal; Fr. Edwin, originally serving in the Amravati Diocese went to Toronto in Canada; Fr. Mathew had been the Chaplain in the US Navy and presently is retired. Two of Albert’s sisters-Sr. Lucy and Sr. Eugene had joined the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod. Unfortunately, Sr. Lucy passed away in 1993 at Thane, Maharashtra. Sr. Eugene is presently the Superior General of the Congregation based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Albert had his early education in the Church Aided Higher Primary School and high school studies in St. Lawrence High School, Moodubelle. While in the 10th standard, Albert was even elected as the School Pupil Leader (SPL) and was active as the ‘Prime Minister’ in the ‘high school parliament’.

After completing SSLC in 1964, Albert remained at home due to severe migraine and sinus problems. However, he never allowed these ailments to hamper his activities. He utilized the free time that he had to learn typewriting and short-hand at an institute at Katapadi. Proceeding to Mumbai later in 1964, Albert stayed at the Original St. Lawrence Club and began to work in a book store which also functioned as a circulating library for few moths where he had ample opportunity to read various foreign magazines.

When quizzed about how he chose the priestly vocation, Archbishop Albert narrated the circumstances that prompted him to join priesthood in the Lucknow diocese. Three of his elder brothers had already joined the priesthood. As the original St. Lawrence Club where he stayed was closer to the Gloria Church at Byculla, Albert would attend daily masses. On a particular day that he had to  appear for an interview for the job as a clerk in a bank, Albert as usual decided to go for the morning mass when someone handed him over a telegram from Bishop Conrad De Vito of Lucknow with the message, “Welcome to join Lucknow this July.” (1965).

With the letter for an interview for a bank job and a telegram from the Bishop of Lucknow, Albert went to the church and remained in the church till the third mass was also over. He did not know what held him back, but he did not go for the interview. However, responding to   the invitation of Bishop Conrad De Vito, Albert proceeded to Lucknow. Quoting from the memory of a latter that Albert had written to him, his brother Bernard said that the migraine from which Albert used to suffer had strangely disappeared when he reached the gates of the seminary and this aliment never troubled him again.

On reaching Lucknow Albert joined St. Paul’s Minor Seminary at Dilkusha, Lucknow in 1965, with a strong intention of becoming a priest for the Diocese of Lucknow. He did his Philosophy and Theology studies in St Joseph’s Regional Seminary, Allahabad and was ordained priest on 8th December 1974.

Following his ordination, Fr. Albert did a stint of priestly ministry, first as an Assistant Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Church, Bazpur (1975-77) and then as Parish Priest of St. Jude’s Church, Mohanlalganj (1977-78). Thereafter, from 1978 to 1984, Fr. Albert was appointed Professor and Spiritual Director of St. Paul’s Minor Seminary, Dilkusha, Lucknow.

Equipped with one-year’s diploma course in Formation Spirituality at the National Vocation Service Centre, Pune, Fr. Albert was sought after as a retreat preacher by seminarians, religious men and women and youth. He has been enthusiastic and zealous in guiding retreats particularly for the youth whose faith formation was his real passion in view of fostering local vocations.  During a period of four years, due to the efforts of Fr. Albert over hundred local men and women joined different religious congregations and half a dozen of them became priests. He was the pioneer of the month-long life orientation programme for the youth of Uttar Pradesh region, which is being organized every summer till date.

Realizing the potential of Fr. Albert as a spiritual guide and organizer the Diocesan authorities deputed Fr. Albert to Rome for higher studies and research. In 1984, Fr. Albert was awarded the Doctorate by the Pontifical University Angelicum, Rome in Spiritual Theology for his thesis: “Power of Holy Spirit as Strength of Human Person”.  After returning to his diocese, Fr. Albert served at St. Paul’s Seminary, Dilkusha, for a year and subsequently sent to St. Joseph’s Regional Seminary at Allahabad as Professor of Theology and Spiritual Director between 1989 and 1992.

As he was destined for greater service of God and humanity, Fr. Albert was chosen by His Holiness Pope John Paul II  as the Bishop of Lucknow on 26th November 1992, and after his Episcopal Ordination on 7th February 1993, he was installed as the fourth Bishop of Lucknow, where he served for 14 years.

During fourteen years of his service as the Bishop of Lucknow Most Rev. Dr. Albert D’Souza instituted ten new parishes and equal number of schools in the diocese. He was responsible for starting residential school for the blind and another school for the deaf and dumb and a day school for the mentally disabled children. Bishop Albert took initiative to establish the Sacred Heart Science Degree College and also the Sacred Heart Institute of Management and Technology as he was keen to provide opportunities for the young Christians to avail the facility of higher education. He was the Chairperson of Regional Association of Catholic Schools. He also constituted the Regional Bishop’s Association for Catholic Higher Education. During his tenure as the Bishop of Lucknow there were seven degree colleges and twenty other professional colleges in the Diocese of Lucknow.

Prior to Pope John Paul II’s visit to Goa and Karnataka, Bishop Albert was deputed to Rome to coach His Holiness to speak in Konkani and few sentences in Kannada. When the Pope visited Mangalore, Bangalore and Goa in 1986, he did speak those few sentences in Konkani and Kannada in which His Holiness the Pope had been coached by Bishop Albert and the Pope acknowledged the fact that Bishop Albert was his teacher in these two languages. Bishop Albert also came in contact with the present Pope, Benedict XVI when he was still a Cardinal during his stint as a visiting professor for academic seminars.

Bishop Albert D’Souza was elevated to the position of Archbishop of the Agra Archdiocese following the transfer of Archbishop Oswald Gracias from Agra to Mumbai in 2007.  The Archdiocese of Agra comprises of 17 districts and 12 dioceses spread over the states Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.

As part of the social mission, Archbishop Albert has taken initiative to establish Homes for Street Children-for boys at Aligarh and for girls at Agra. His priorities include providing educational facilities to mentally challenged and abandoned children, interfaith dialogue, low cost non-institutional society based services to win credibility of the people, etc. These are the part of other alternative ministries that the church proposes to promote. Archbishop Albert said that soon a residential school for mentally challenged children will be established at Agra.

As he is extremely busy, Archbishop Albert finds very little time to visit his home in Moodubelle. When i came to know that he would be visiting his family for a day or so during the first week of January 2010, i grabbed this opportunity to have an appointment with him for a brief dialogue as i had already collected considerable amount of information about him from his elder brother Mr. Bernard and Mr. Ronald Saby, son of Mr. Bernard. I accompanied Mr. Victor D’Souza, cousin of Archbishop Albert who had come from Doha on vacation and his family for a brief meeting as the Archbishop had to leave for Mumbai on the same morning.

When i met the Archbishop, i found him to be quite homely, friendly and forthcoming. He did not stand on any formality. I cross checked with him the information that i had collected from sources and got additional information from him. We became a bit of nostalgic about the school years as both of us were classmates up to 8th standard.

Archbishop Albert D’Souza has been a person with a divine mission and dream of strengthening the Catholic faith in North India. Meanwhile, being a liberal in his disposition, Archbishop Albert has been promoting interfaith dialogue among the representatives of different faiths to foster mutual understanding and harmony among the people irrespective of their beliefs.

 (I thank Mr. Bernard, Mr. Ronald Saby and Mr. Victor D’Souza, who helped me in compiling this profile of Archbishop Albert D’Souza)

 

Comments on this Article
Lawrence D Mello, Karkala Tue, May-16-2017, 6:43
I am so happy to know that my Spiritual Director Father Albert D Sousa is a Arch Bishop of Agra Diocese,O God I came to know just today,Praise the Lord, I have no words to speak, He was my Spiritual Director in the year 1979 to 81 in St.Paul s Seminary Lucknow. Lord Shower Your abundant Blessings on Our Lordship Arch Bishop Albert DSouza.
zita, New Delhi Mon, February-22-2010, 2:55
Once again well done Dr. Eugene, I ve heard a lot about His Grace Archbishop Albert from many of our Delhi priests, and i feel so happy and proud that he is from Moodubelle. I wish him all the best and pray for God s Blessings. Bellevision rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Victor Castelino, Moodubelle/Dubai Sun, February-14-2010, 3:04
Soft spoken, always cheerful and caring His Grace Archbishop Albert was a friend of all during our school days. I wish him long and fruitful life. I was just wondering why there was no mention of His Grace during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of our school. May be because his life history better fits in during the centenary celebrations of Belle Church. Eugene you have done a wonderful job. Thanks.
Suraj-Belle, Moodubelle/Dubai Sun, February-14-2010, 1:33
Monnu Mastram s family is a biggest Gods Gift to this whole world. May God bless every one of his family members. Eugene Sir, you have given new life bellevision.com. As a well wisher of Bellevision and regular viewer of this website My special thanks to you, Anil, and our Webmaster Sigfred.
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