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Fr. Jose Luis Saldanha

Ordained 17th Nov. 1973


Fr. Saldanha's Messages

Nov. 17th 2023


The Word was made Flesh, And dwelt amongst us!
(John 1:14)

For all that has been,
For all that will be,

Please pray for Fr. Jose Luis Saldanha as he celebrates 50 years of Priesthood.

Nairobi, 17th November, 2023

“You did not choose me; I CHOSE YOU!”

I have mentioned before how on the day of my ordination the skies did not fall on my head! Surely, I should have felt a tweak, a sensation, even a heart beating erratically? But NOTHING happened!

Now after 50 years I realise that I did not become a Priest on the 17th of November, 1973 for the simple reason that I was a Priest from the Day of my Birth! Like the Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and others, I was HIS and living in His Heart since time immemorial!

This is NOT fanciful thought – it is the reality and made more so because I can see myself INSIDE and wonder if I am truly worthy of this honour? Surely God can see how imperfect I am and however much I try to be the pure Spirit that a human aspect always is present.

Now I accept fully that God set me apart not because I was “perfect” but because He works as always with clay which is un-formed, but ready to spring into a shape at His Touch!

My Priesthood is at the service of the Almighty and continues the Work of Redemption – the ever-present effort of God to lead His Precious People across the Red Sea to the Mount of Promise.

God has not hammered me into submission to His Will – all this has happened in a subtle way and it has all been His Work.

Why I was chosen, I do not know, but I know that My Priesthood has set me apart. I am still human in my actions but the Power of God courses through me and even though sometimes I am filled with doubt it is the Precious People I serve that recognize the new creation in me! And keep me Faithful!

Maybe in the past 50 years I have diverted many a time but God has always been there to reclaim what He Chose.

Yes, My Priesthood is reason to celebrate. It is not that I have been faithful to God but that He has been Faithful to His Choice!

In working in and through me I know that I have let God down a million times but He has persisted and today it is time to be Grateful.

What has the Priesthood meant to those who are celebrating?

All have been touched by God in a mysterious way – it is not that I conditioned my actions or smiles to play out an agenda: it has ALL been His Work!  Maybe I cannot feel this energy but in reacting to my Presence others have felt it and known that God was reaching out to them, to enfold them in His embrace which was “spiritual” but in its effect, and because of me, became human. And WARM!

A prophet in the Bible is recognized to be the “mouth-piece” of God and is so accepted. But it is so easy to do so when we read words in the Bible. We ask ourselves what is happening in our own times? How does God speak to us?

He has spoken through me! This I say not with arrogance but in humility. As I state this fact, I am in turmoil inside not believing for a second that I could be worthy of this gift.

But the Precious People whom I serve insist that I do – they see through the imperfection and do not brook contradiction! All I can do is accept their verdict.

It was His Eminence Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga who called me to kneel before Him and in anointing my Hands bound me forever in God’s Service.

As you celebrate this 50th Anniversary of the Anointing, the affirmation of God’s Choice amongst you, I too celebrate with you grateful that I had only one life to live and it was lived in spreading His Love to the ends of the earth.

“I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep!!”

I carry you all in my Heart!

Love and God Bless.

Father Jose Luis Saldanha

Nov. 15th 2023


The Word was made Flesh, And dwelt amongst us!
(John 1:14)

I have promises to keep,
And miles to go
before I sleep

Please pray for Fr. Jose Luis Saldanha as he celebrates 50 years of Priesthood.

Nairobi, 17th November, 2023

The Beauty of God in the Priest!

I must have shocked so many of you when I placed that oh so terrible image of a tortured Face right at the very beginning of this web site! 

A Priest shocks as he follows Jesus who did not hesitate to shock. Jesus mentions camels passing through an eye of a needle; when we are struck on one cheek, to offer the other; if someone borrows your cloak let him have the other one (and presuming you go naked!); never exact interest!

In fact, some of the Words that are attributed to Jesus, shock in a real sense but we would all love to just listen and sweep under the carpet the challenges the words pose!

And we would do this without batting an eyelid if it were not for the Priest!

But Jesus is not a fool – no one would ever have listened to His Message if His public ministry started out with the stench of Golgotha! A Priest follows His Teacher by first reaching out with his touch and healing – the same way as Jesus did. It was only when the crowds gathered, they were made to sit down and offered the Word and Challenge.

A Priest must always smile and be the clown that attracts people to his antics, his jokes, his tumbles which have only one purpose: to relax the people to accept the next step. While they are holding their sides because of their belly laughs the Priest withdraws and next you are watching the Mystery of the Incarnation.

The Priest has this responsibility – to make the Beauty of God VISIBLE before the eyes of People who are in pain, who are slaves to Sin, who are disfigured with weakness.

How does he do this? In the same way as God did!

God the Beautiful, the All Good, scooped His fallen Creation not by condemning with harsh judgements but by identifying with their misery. The tortured Face is the Plan of God to lead us back to His Beauty!

There can be no other way and the Priest knows this to be true. Daily the Priest holds the Bread and Wine in his anointed Hands and  whispers the Words that invite those who are broken, estranged and miserable into the Sacred – In Holy Communion we are transformed into the Trinity and the Reconciliation is not just mathematical  but in viewing ourselves in the mirror we see not ugliness but the Beauty that was once ours right at the very Beginning when we walked Hand and Hand with God Our Friend.

As I celebrate 50 years, the one thing that is the best is that I am surrounded by the Beauty of God!

Through my puny self, God re-creates anew. As I identify with Christ on the cross, I know that my Face is tortured but the Miracle is what I feel all around me: people overlook my ugliness and focus on my smile! God embraces His People and they are ONE!

Surely even a blind person will witness this ONE-NESS on Saturday! Come to the party wearing your BIGGEST Smile!

Love and God Bless.

Father Jose Luis Saldanha

Nov. 10th 2023


The Word was made Flesh, And dwelt amongst us!
(John 1:14)

O Life!
I want you always to be beautiful.
Neither Rich, nor Easy, nor Joyful:
But purely Limpid –
Like Spring Water!

Please pray for Fr. Jose Luis Saldanha as he celebrates 50 years of Priesthood.

Nairobi, 17th November, 2023

What has kept me on an even keel in these 50 years, and amidst the overwhelming Joy that I have experienced because of my Priesthood, is without a doubt my Blindness!

I was diagnosed with this condition (called Retinitis Pigmentosa) just three months before my Ordination in 1973. Since it is a hereditary disease, I was born with it.

The condition is caused by a lack of a specific protein in the blood needed to keep the tiny vessels that supplied blood (and oxygen) to the cells in the retina to shrivel up. Looking into the eye one could see the “scars” caused by these dead cells that pigmented the retina and of course interfered with the sight process.

To date there is no cure: Research is slow in identifying the protein and how to supply it to the body. There is more success with mechanical means – e.g. A digital camera connected to the spectacles at the side of the head and transmitting via Bluetooth to the optic nerve (which is intact) – shows great promise but its use is decades in the future.

The cardinal had no hesitation in ordaining me as, of course, there was no clear picture of the future and since at that time I was able to function and even drive a car I was happy to have an opportunity to exercise my pastoral activity.

But for sure I was aware what was in store for me and maybe this was my guiding light that coloured my years as a Priest. I was, of course, realistic about my future and the possibilities of advance.

Maybe this was the crux of my whole life. I was able to concentrate on my Priesthood and not so much in what the future would bring.

To my great Joy I was able to return to Rome and obtain a Licentiate in Bible Studies but my academic career did not last long as I had difficulty doing the necessary research.

It was twenty years before I gave up driving and a further ten years before I registered at the Blind Institute and obtained my first white cane.

Ever since I received the verdict of what the future held for me there was a clear choice: either to lapse into melancholy or make the best of everything and look on my condition not as an obstacle but as a stepping stone.

In this my Vocation played a great part. Once I accepted that I was going nowhere career wise (yes even priests have ambitions!) I was able to concentrate on being the best Priest I could be.

This is then my success story! In the seminary I had many dreams and even though I did recognize my Vocation was real there were other distraction open to me – and for sure studying in Rome and close to the hub of our faith one is able to dream.

But I know that if I had pursued these other roads, I could have advanced but it would have been at the cost of my Priesthood. I would have been only half a Priest!

My blindness has been the reason for the celebration today when I remember that I was able to exercise the Priesthood without distractions. I can say with truth that I have enjoyed my Priesthood.

More my blindness has being a real “attraction” – in some way I have come close to people and all that they are going through. The people could see that I was one of them in my weakness and could counsel not from above but with understanding of what most people go through.

Aligned to this was my love for the Eucharist – my daily closeness to the Master who comes down on our Altars through my Anointed Hands.  This “Incarnation” at Mass has a purpose: Jesus again offers His Life as a sacrifice and in Holy Communion gives us a chance to be reconciled with God – our Ultimate Vocation.

How truly Blessed I felt to participate in this daily sacrifice not from afar as in a drama but to be genuinely with Christ on the cross because of my blindness.

It is as if Christ has really invited me to be part of His Life – not only in healing and teaching but also part of what Christ is all about: the cross!

The Blessing is that I am not nailed physically to the Cross, or that my condition in some way was fatal. But it flavoured all my words and actions – in this last I could really and truly enter into the evangel of people’s lives! And my sympathy for others was real and heartfelt.

But the mystery of the Priesthood is something else. When God calls, He is NOT hammering a person to fit a mold – God genuinely accepts who we are and runs with that – just as Jesus accepted the many differences manifested by the Apostles He chose.

Not for an instance would I say that I am perfect and many of you have noticed how human I am – not only in some imperfection in behaviour but also in having my heart run away from me! This can be embarrassing sometimes!  I would like to think that Jesus too caused this reaction.

So, there you have it. After 50 years the celebration is not because I have achieved much – the promises of my childhood and seminary have flown out of the window. Yet, there is reason to celebrate as in my Priesthood God has reached out into this world and is involved in the lives of His People showing Himself not as a harsh Judge but a Loving Father. That was the image cultivated by Jesus as He roamed the byways of Galilee bringing Joy and Peace to all He met – and the image multiplied a million times because of the cross!

I want to conclude by challenging all who read this to recognize in themselves a Vocation just like mine. And if we are speaking about the cross everyone has this cross in their lives – be it a health issue or personal relationship that has gone awry.  Without a doubt the Cross underwrites the actions of all and flavours the response so that God is made Present in this world.

Love and God Bless.

Father Jose Luis Saldanha

Nov. 3rd 2023


The Word was made Flesh, And dwelt amongst us!
(John 1:14)

It is in simplicity,
That one touches the sublime!

Please pray for Fr. Jose Luis Saldanha as he celebrates 50 years of Priesthood.

Nairobi, 17th November, 2023

November 17th 1973, the Feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, was a Saturday. Crisp and threatening.

It is a day that will always be etched in my memory. It was on this day that I received the Holy Anointing from the then Archbishop of Nairobi, Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga in the Sanctuary of the Holy Family Minor Basilica in Nairobi.

I was supported by Father Frank Comerford of the Holy Ghost Congregation – and this is how it should be as he above all watered my Vocation – I was his altar boy when in school and accompanied him in his Ford Prefect as he celebrated Mass in an outstation of Saint Francis Xavier’s Parish.

In preparation for this great day, I had already done a five-day retreat at the Queen of Apostles Seminary, (directed by Father Bill Higgins) and was all ready to have the skies fall on my head!

But what I remember above all was that nothing changed from one day to the other! It almost felt that NOTHING momentous happened and maybe they had got the Anointing all wrong!

But the 50 years since that day have shown me that, yes, the Ordination did cause an upheaval “inside” but on the “outside” I was still the same. The Sacrament of Holy Orders imbues one with a special indelible character – one remains the same on the OUTSIDE but it is all new INSIDE!

My 50 years of Priesthood now reflects the reality that is portrayed by the two images at the top of this site.

My Priesthood cannot but be one of Joy as I am intimately aware of the “miracle” of the Resurrection which brings Salvation to the World – after all I daily enact this Salvation in the Eucharist culminating in the Reconciliation of Man and God. one cannot but be Joyful. The overwhelming instinct is to smile knowing that I serve this Wonderful God and bring certain rescue from pain and suffering.

But there is the other reality seen in the image of the tortured Face seen in that mysterious negative which is the foundation of what God’s Love is all about. In the image we see to what lengths God went in order to have us back with Him. God did not hesitate to allow His Only-begotten Son to suffer ignominiously on the Cross.

A Priest realises all this when He celebrates the Eucharist – and as he does this daily, he is always aware that God wishes him to show these “two” faces to all he meets.

I have received my Anointing from God but all this would be useless if I could not fulfill that other, and to me an equally important part, by reaching out to people, to you! Jesus on the Cross and suffering lays the foundation of my life as a Priest but Like Jesus the cross has this purpose: to go out into the highways and byways and get all to the Wedding Feast. I know that my mission would be a failure if instead of smiling I would go around with a tortured demeanor.

This Anniversary will be sterile if you do not help me to celebrate because in these fifty years, I have fallen in Love a million times and I want all of you to tell me this. In everything I imitated my vagabond Master roaming the byways of galilee with His Happy Band revealing the Kingdom to all He met.

Please head to the message page and leave your salaams. If you go further and give me your contact information, I will be able to get in touch with you.

Hope you will visit this page in the days ahead – if I do not share the excitement, I feel with you … something is going to break!

The image on the left above is of course taken from the Shroud that is preserved in Turin and is purported to be the cloth that covered Our Lord when He was laid in the tomb.  To the naked eye the cloth is just stained with some mysterious marks. It was only when someone attempted to take a photograph of the cloth that the NEGATIVE revealed what could be the body, back and front, of a Man who had been tortured – bearing marks that could have been produced by someone who had been crucified.  The above image is just of the Face!

Love and God Bless.

Father Jose Luis Saldanha