|4th International Day of Prayer, Amsterdam 2000|
“My decisive step into the Catholic Church”
Two years ago I, as a Protestant officer and as a son of a Protestant pastor, was for the first time in your midst (Photo) to share with all of you something about my relationship to Mary as my personal mother. I felt very privileged to give this short testimony from the bottom of my heart, because it is a reality that Our Lady, who we put so often aside in the Protestant world, became more and more present and also important in my life.
God granted my father a very special year, a blessed year, which gave him the opportunity and big joy to baptize his first grandson, my son Edwin. Especially during this last year of his life it was my Dad’s pleasure and consolation as Protestant pastor to pray every day the Rosary and the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and each Friday he went to the Catholic Church to meditate the Stations of the Cross. I always admired this prayerful way of ecumenism, which he lived till the end. Since in the hearts of both of us grew more and more the deep wish to share the full community with the Church, my father and I decided that our family would like to become Roman Catholics during autumn 99.
But God decided otherwise and my father passed away on 2nd of July 99. I remember so well his last night, when all the pain in his chest had disappeared and when he told me his last wish: He urged me to convert as soon as possible to the one, true Church. The next morning - it was Friday - when my mother found my father, he was lying peacefully in his bed with the prayer book next to him, opened at the Litany of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Although my father never converted exteriorly, lots of people of both confessions where present at his funeral, and all felt peace and unity.
I am convinced my father helped us from heaven in that not only I, but also my Protestant wife Sarah became ready by her own free will to become catholic too. Our pilgrimage to Rome in November 1999 was another important spiritual help especially for my wife to understand deeper, what it means to be part of the Universal Catholic Church. As young parents we were so happy and touched by grace, when we had the extraordinary privilege of receiving the blessing of the Holy Father for our son.
Being back home in Sweden, we finally made the decisive step of our conversion with our little baby-boy Edwin on Our Lady’s feastday of Immaculate Conception, 8th of December 1999. I am sure you can imagine that this common conversion means so much for me. God and Our Lady made it possible that my whole family is now able to share the sacraments without being spiritually divided in our faith. Even more! In a few months I hopefully will pass my final exams at the University of Gothenburg. After that I hope to be a good schoolteacher for Ethics and Religion, and speak more through a convincing example than through words.
So I came back from Sweden here to Amsterdam also in the name of my wife Sarah, to say a sincere and profound ‘Thank You’ to the Lady and Mother of All Nations. And I came also to let you participate in our deep joy. We thank you for your spiritual support and we further count on your prayers, so that many of our Protestant friends may receive also the courage to make this step, and to follow us into the one flock under one shepherd.