16 Dec Padre Alberto
Padre Alberto Passiel was been born in Ribaué in Nampula province and was a native Macua speaker. He was a carpenter and was 60 years old when he was ordained after spending three years in local training.
The Diocese of Niassa more than doubled its size in terms of congregations and members between 2004 and 2014, a move of the Spirit and of people settling and planting the church after the insecurities of war. With the high church growth rate in new areas in the early 2000’s, the diocese planned to grow the number of theologically and locally trained priests to meet the need. Following similar vision from other areas in Africa, the Diocese decided to prepare what came to be called Community Priests – people with a proven community and church leadership from years as catechists and evangelists, educationally disadvantaged because of thirty years of war in northern Mozambique and of a maturity of faith and life with a call to ordained ministry. Alberto was one of the first group of 13 ordained to this ministry.
In 2003, when Bishop Mark was consecrated, only 21 priests served around 230 congregations in Niassa – seven of those priests were retired. By 2015, the number of clergy in Niassa was 59 and 25 were Community Priests. The war years had been a disturbing time and he only finished primary education, but he was a good man of strong faith and loved in his community. The uncertainties of life had taken a strain on his wife, Rosa, but Padre Alberto continued to love and support her through her struggles and to see her as she is today – a healthy, round and happy woman and keen member of the MU. Padre Alberto has served the parish of Mecuburi since 2006 on his bike, cycling to one of the what grew to be 30 churches under his pastoral care every Sunday. He has grown this parish through visits and preparation for baptism, confirmations and weddings to 1,535 members and his eyes show his delight in his calling, twinkling when he tells you his stories of grace.
One such story was of a man in one of his congregations whose life has been completely turned around since baptism in 2010. This man had been the village ‘feitiçeiro’ [witch doctor] (man wearing the colourful jacket) who had dreamt of a man telling him to lay down his instruments of his craft and follow him – and when he heard this very same message in church at a confirmation service with the Bishop, he immediately asked for baptism. Padre Alberto reported the following year that that village was now freed of the fear of this man and the church had come to be seen as a place of healing and new life – and he was almost dancing with joy as he recounted this transformative work of the Spirit!
We give thanks for Padre Alberto, his example, his deep faith and love for his community. We pray that you will raise up others like him to spread your wonderful news of Love Come Down.