Carlo’s Converts

Carlo’s Converts Rajesh Mohur with Carlo Acutis. For credit: contact The IC team

As the first Millennial on the path to sainthood, Blessed Carlo Acutis demonstrated a remarkable ability to inspire faith in others. What can his story teach us about bringing others to the Faith?

A child dragging their parent to Mass might seem like a real “man bites dog” situation. To be sure for many Catholic mums and dads across the country, it seems  a distant dream. Yet, Blessed Carlo Acutis, soon to be the first Millennial saint, did just that, highlighting why he was chosen for canonization. So, what can this young Italian teach us about bringing people to the faith?

His mother, Antonia Salzano, freely admits she was “not the ideal model of a Catholic mother” and that she attended Mass only for her first Holy Communion, confirmation, and marriage. But when young Carlo, aged just three, insisted on attending Mass, she was drawn back to the Faith. “I started to go to Mass again,” Antonia said. “And this was actually because of Carlo. Carlo, for me, was a sort of little saviour.”

Nicola Gori, the postulator of Acutis’ cause for sainthood, said that Carlo loved God in a way that inspired others, especially those closest to him. “Think, he managed to drag his relatives, his parents to Mass every day. It was not the other way around; it was not his parents bringing the little boy to Mass, but it was he who managed to get himself to Mass and to convince others to receive Communion daily,” Gori said.

His mother also noted that Carlo’s example inspired her and others beyond Mass. He always had a happy smile. “People would see him and think, does he know me? He’s smiling at me.” He would stand up to bullies in school and change the atmosphere. He was a catechist for five years. He helped migrants, saying, “It is hard to find yourself away from your family, with no one,” and he provided the homeless with blankets and other necessities.

But it wasn’t just his mother who was inspired. The son of a Brahmin Hindu priest was baptized as a Catholic because of the young boy’s joyful witness.

Rajesh Mohur, originally from Mauritius, was employed by the Acutis family in December 1995 to help take care of Carlo. After Carlo made his first Communion at the age of 7, Mohur would walk with him to the church around the corner from his house for Mass or to pray on his way to and from school.

Mohur observed how young Carlo’s behavior changed when he entered a church. While Carlo prayed in front of the tabernacle, Mohur would quietly sit in the back and watch the young boy as he prayed earnestly. “He talked always about the Eucharist, Jesus, how he suffered for us … sacrificed his life for us,” Mohur said. “Carlo told me that wherever you go, you may find Jesus present in Flesh, Soul, and Blood [in the tabernacle].”

Mohur also observed Carlo’s care and concern for others. He recalled how young Carlo once gathered up his toys, including some nice Christmas presents from his grandparents and parents, and asked Mohur to accompany him to the park to sell his toys to give the money to the poor. “He collected the money, and there were some poor people lying there in front of the church. They were sleeping on the floor during winter. It was quite cold. … He said that they were suffering, you know. They needed help,” Mohur said. “When I saw Carlo’s acts, you know, of such a small child, then I got converted.”

“So, slowly, slowly … he used to tell me the importance of baptism and so many other things also,” he added. “All those experiences changed my life. And I could see the living God.”

Four years after first meeting Carlo, Mohur was baptized. He was in his late 30s at the time, and as an adult entering the Catholic Church, he received all the Catholic sacraments of initiation: baptism, first Communion, and confirmation in a Mass at Carlo’s parish in 1999.

When Mohur’s mother visited from Mauritius a few years later, Carlo would sit in the kitchen with her and tell her in English about Jesus and the Catholic faith. When she returned to Mauritius, she asked to be baptized.

These remarkable stories underline why so many now see Blessed Carlo as a saint. Those of us who have sometimes struggled to share the joy of faith with others can perhaps learn from his example. From his mother, we see that the joy he took in everyday life and his concern for the less fortunate, like the homeless, was very powerful. He was inspiring in his actions and in the way he treated others. People were attracted to that.

Similarly, with Rajesh Mohur, Carlo did not pressure him but simply engaged him with his own interests, and slowly, the man from Mauritius began to share it. The honest sharing of our heart, without pressure, can be very powerful.

Finally, with Mohur’s mother, we see the power of being willing to engage with anyone at any time.

Now few of us are saints, but  we can all take little steps in their direction.