by NZ CATHOLIC staff
Divine Word missionary Fr Albano Da Costa has left New Zealand after three and- a-half years.
Fr Albano, from Goa in India, was ordained in 2011. His first assignment was to the AUS Province, taking up a mission in Wellington archdiocese. However, he has now been asked by the Australasian
Province to move to Rome to study for his Licentiate in Missiology.
“There is so much that I will miss when leaving New Zealand,” Fr Albano said. “I arrived in this country knowing very little about what was ahead of me, but in a very short time, I felt at home.”
Fr Albano was part of a new collaborative ministry model — the Launch Out Programme — which called upon lay people to respond to their baptismal call in a more focused, ministry way.
Fr Albano said there had been challenges, as with any ministry, but he had learnt from them.
“I had the privilege of ministering to congregations that differed somewhat in
culture, lifestyle and socio-economic status.
Not only did I minister to people of many cultures, but I am also very aware of just how much I learnt from them too — their strong family bond, their deep yet simple faith, their generosity, their readiness to share the little they have, the value that they place on togetherness and community and the warmth of their welcome and huge sense of hospitality. I will always remember their love of singing and dance.”
Fr Albano said that working across four parishes presented even simple challenges, such as learning everyone’s name.
“I quickly learned the power of a smile, a hug and a warm handshake,” he said.
Asked what he will miss most about his time of mission in the multicultural suburbs of outer Wellington, Fr Albano said it will be the people.
“I will miss my connectedness with the communities and families across the four parishes,” he said. “I’ll miss the children’s Masses, visits to the schools and doing ‘bumblebees and jellybeans’ with the children in the classrooms, the work with youth, my visits to the housebound
and the sick, and the warmth and love of the parishioners who always welcomed me into their homes.”
He said he hopes his study in Rome will allow him to be better able to respond to the needs of the province.
“I hope that after the study I will return to the province and the future will be discussed. The needs of the SVD will always come first.”