My grandfather was pagan

Bishop Dominic Khumalo, OMI is auxiliary bishop in South Africa. Let us allow him to give us personally the history of his vocation.

“I come from the Zulu nation. My ancestors were pagan. There was consternation in my home village when I left for the minor seminary in Lesotho. It was only six years later that I returned. During the three months of my vacation, I received visits from several members of my family, some of whom were saddened at what was happening to me. My grandfather called me one night, and spoke with the habitual solemnity that he used when addressing his grandchildren.

‘My child,’ he said, ‘I am convinced that you no longer have one ounce of affection for anyone in your family, even for your mother. Not only do you deceive yourself, by becoming a Catholic priest, but it is impossible, especially for you. Only a White Man can become a priest; that vocation is not for colored folk. The life of a Catholic priest is lived in exile. He works without expecting to be rewarded, far from his loved ones, without the joys of family life. Only the Whites know the secret of a drug that renders a man capable of such a sacrifice.’

‘Grandfather,’ I answered, ‘it is true that such a power exists, but it is not a drug, it is a gift from God.’

Seven year later, I was ordained to the priesthood. My grandfather, too ill to attend the ceremony, called me to his bedside. ‘I waited for you a long time,’ he said, ‘my days are numbered and I wish to give myself to God, but I want to be baptized by you.’ Remembering our last conversation, I was very surprised.

‘But grandfather, do you know anything about our religion?’

‘Only what you taught me, seven years ago, and I remember it well.’

‘Then I’ll come back tomorrow to begin your instruction.’

‘No, you must not leave me until you’ve baptized me. I’ve felt so weak for two days that it’s hard to believe that I’m still alive.’

He was so insistent that after one hour of instruction on the articles of faith, I baptized him. I couldn’t help thinking of how the ‘drug’ had been working in him.

My grandfather would not see the sun of another day. That very night he left us for a better world, and I thanked God for having allowed an old pagan man to wait for his grandson’s return home.”

André DORVAL, OMI


36th General Chapter 2016
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