Fr Aloysius Furtado, a Priest after the heart of Christ, has laid the foundation for many choirs in whichever Parishes he has been to over the years.
Opening Doorz Editorial | March 24, 2021
Fr Aloysius Furtado who celebrates his 79th birthday today is presently at St Dominic Savio Church, Wadala, Mumbai, a Parish he helped nurture during its early years. In this article, reproduced from SDB West, a Salesian Mumbai Province Publication, Fr Savio D’Souza, Parish Priest, profiles the People’s Priest, who has also completed 50 years of his Ordination.
“The Parish is a beacon that radiates the light of faith and thus, responds to the deepest and truest desires of the human heart, giving meaning and hope to the lives of individuals and families.”
–Pope Benedict XVI
Instruction on Pastoral Conversion of the Parish Community
Fr Aloysius Furtado can attest to the effectiveness of these words since he has been a Parish Priest for 30 years. While discovering in himself the meaning and hope that comes from being a Priest, his ministry (60 years as a Salesian and 50 as a priest) has helped him respond to the needs of persons and families, and enabled God’s light and hope to shine into their lives and families.
From Zanzibar to Bombay, India…
God chose Fr Aloysius (Fr Aloo as he is fondly called) from among the five sons of Stephen and Alexandrinha Furtado. His life that was nurtured in Zanzibar, Africa, shifted shore to Bombay, some 2500 miles away, where Don Bosco, Matunga, became his second home and the care of saintly Salesians like Fr Mauro Casarotti and Fr John Giacomello sowed in him the desire to imitate them in the service of the young.
With an enterprising spirit and faith in his heart, he left for Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, to follow the promptings of the Spirit where on May 25, 1960, he made his first profession. Three years of philosophy coupled with the TSLC (Teachers’ Secondary Leaving Certificate) brought him again to Don Bosco, Matunga, for Practical Training.
Over his three years at Don Bosco, Matunga, he rediscovered the richness of the classical Salesian life which comprised hard work, a spirituality lived in the midst of the boys, and a firm desire to offer his life as an oblation to God. After another year as a Practical Trainee at St Bede’s, Chennai, the young Aloysius began his theological studies first at Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu, and then as one among the first batch of students to be shifted to Kristu Jyoti College, Bengaluru.
Ordained a Priest… Grace abounded…
On December 19, 1970, at Panjim, Goa, he received the Sacred Orders from Archbishop Raul Gonsalves. His ordination motto bore inspiration from the letter of St Paul to the Romans, “Though sin increased, grace always abounded. Take up the life of Jesus.” (5:20).
Fr Aloysius’ life as a priest with the boarders as Prefect of Studies at St Paul’s Borivali (1970–1975); Don Bosco, Matunga, (1975–1979), Don Bosco Panjim (1983–1984) and later as Assistant Parish Priest and Parish Priest at Our Lady of Dolours, Wadala (1979–1983; 2005–2011); St Dominic Savio, Wadala, (1987–1994; 1999–2005); and Don Bosco Borivali (1994–1999; 2012–2018; 2018–2020) is filled with cherished moments because it helped him develop a caring and an amiable personality that made him accessible to people of all age groups and walks of life.
As a Good Shepherd among his people, Fr Aloysius’ years can be characterized as an engagement in the daily life of communities, giving others courage and strength to live their own lives, moved, like Jesus, when he sees people exhausted and ‘like sheep without a shepherd.’
Without people, the Priesthood is nothing…
Though these engagements have brought with them a share of crosses, the moments of joy and happiness far outweigh the stress. He believes, “Without people the priesthood is nothing,” and in his simple candour states, “You have to be happy with yourself and make good choices.”
A ‘joy’ that comes from his union with Jesus and the ‘humour’ that unfolds from an awareness of his own limitations are what help Fr Aloysius live his vocation passionately. Pope Francis describes the priest as a decentralized man, because at the centre of his life there is not him, but Christ.
The words of Christ: ‘This is my Body, which is given up for you’, gives Fr Aloysius the identity and the meaning to daily renew the promises he made at his priestly ordination. Moreover, it helps him discover his own humanness as he welcomes every person in their brokenness, listens to them attentively, approaches the situation with respect and truth, and accompanies them on the journey of reconciliation.
Fr Aloysius, like his Founder, Don Bosco, has always believed that a priest needs to be a man of prayer and a man for others. In the faithful contemplation of the Rosary, Fr Aloysius is made aware of the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness, where his spirituality as a Priest is embodied in the reality of everyday life. He always makes it a point to find opportunities to visit the families in his Parish so that he can know his flock and serve them better.
The musician and Manchester United…
Music and sports are passions that define Fr Aloysius as a man for others. Having learnt music under the watchful gaze of Fr Eliseo Bianchi, Fr Aloysius has himself spent countless hours nurturing his musical talent so that the Good Lord may be praised. Even now, despite his fingers losing sensation and his advancement in years, he will never miss an opportunity to play the keyboard in his unique ‘jazz’ style. Over the years, he has trained the young in music and singing, and thus, laid the foundations of many choirs that till today serve their Parishes.
It is probably the best form of legacy that he leaves behind in every Parish where he has worked. Back in the day, he was a talented hockey and soccer player. He was also known for being a very enthusiastic coach, who not only encouraged his own ranks, but also instilled fear in the opposition! He may be well past his days of active action, but he keeps abreast of his favourite team’s progress (Manchester United) on television. It gives him common ground to interact and win over the youth in the Parish.
St Paul prayed this powerful prayer for the Romans: “May the God of hope bring you such joy in your faith that the power of the Holy Spirit will remove all bounds, to hope” (15:13). We should never limit what God can do nor place bounds to our hope.
As I thank God for Fr Aloysius, I pray that the Lord will plant the ‘seed of living hope’ in our hearts, that He remove all bounds to our hope, and that He enable us to give the people we serve ‘reasons for living and reasons for hoping’
Happy Birthday Fr Aloysius, you are truly God’s gift to the people.