A surprising interview from Diane Montagna in Aleteia, about Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of the Blantyre archdiocese in Malawi. He is one of the Synod fathers and he has a remarkable story to tell:
You were raised Muslim?
At the age of 7, I left home and went to the parish because I wanted to go to school. Nobody from our village would help me. So I stayed at the parish. At the age of 12, I asked for baptism myself, and I was baptized.
When I eventually returned home, my relatives and my father heard about it, and they were against me. They would not welcome me at home, so I always stayed at the parish. They would not not welcome me.
But thanks be to God, I was ordained. To thank God, I wanted to go and celebrate Mass at home. So I asked the Church elder there and my uncle — who was already Catholic at that time — to organize Mass outside.
People were laughing and wondering how many people would come, but it was full of people. My relatives and my father came. And he said to me: “You know, I was refusing to allow you to join this Church, but I believe now we will probably reach heaven through you.”My father, who was a teacher of Islam — an Imam — said this.
Did your father also convert to Catholicism?
When I became a bishop, I returned home and invited people to come together. And my father, an Imam, knelt and said, “I need baptism.” And I said, “Oh father, all these years you have been saying I’m going to hell. Are you going to hell with me?” (laugh).
Our instruction in the Christian faith lasts 3 years, so I said him: If you want to become Catholic, you have to undergo Christian instruction for 3 years. He accepted, and in 2006, I baptized him.
Now, he is very old and very sick. When I go back to Malawi, I have to go to his home so that he can declare before everyone what he has become. I will travel there on the 29th to bring peace to my family. We follow the side of the mother. He must declare that he has wanted to join us as a Christian, so that when he dies there will not be any problem to bury him. It will be my responsibility — our responsibility as Christians – to bury him with a Christian burial.