The presence of more than 500 persons at his funeral, and hundreds who followed it online, are a testimony to the impact the quiet and humble Fr. Albert D’Silva had on the lives of priests, religious and lay persons in Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya. For forty years he had touched their lives as spiritual father and retreat director, thirty of his life as half-blind. He lost one eye in a medical misadventure in 1992, and was partially blind in the other. It led him to years of depression, but slowly turned that adversity into a virtue-cum-creativity. He could not read much but he memorised the Mass, the Bible and some spiritual books, and used them to follow the Master, to whom the disciples said “teach us to pray.” He excelled in this enterprise. As spiritual and retreat director, he guided hundreds of seminarians, priests, religious and lay persons.
Born at Amembal near Mangalore in 1937, he joined the novitiate at Calicut in July 1957. After his philosophy at Shembaganur, he graduated in Botany, did his B.Ed and M.Ed, and then a diploma in counselling. After his ordination in 1972, he opted for the Northeast, and came to the Pastoral Centre in Manipur in 1974. Later he was the Rector and Parish Priest at Jakhama in Nagaland for some years, and spent the rest of his life as spiritual guide. For some years, he was the spiritual guide at Oriens Theological College, Shillong, and for six years at De Nobili College and Papal Seminary. All through these years, the Spiritual Exercises were his mainstay. The day before his sudden death, he gave me a list of retreats for which he was booked, for the next few months. Everyone wanted him as their guide, but God willed otherwise on 17th July 2022.
Walter Fernandes, SJ