Tributes pour in for Cardinal Khoarai

Tributes pour in for Cardinal Khoarai

MASERU-CARDINAL Sebastian Koto Khoarai, 91, the first Mosotho to attain the position, died last Saturday in Mazenod after serving the Catholic Church for 65 years.
The church has not revealed the cause of death except saying he was sick and had to be admitted to a hospital for a while.

Reverend Francis Makhetha of the Mofumahali oa Maloti, Ketane, in the Mohale’s Hoek diocese, worked closely with the cardinal.
He described Cardinal Khoarai as a man of God who “was a strong bishop who started the Mohale’s Hoek diocese”.
Reverend Makhetha says the Cardinal’s early years were hard but he had gotten used to the hard work at Mazenod where he facilitated the improvement and facelift of the Regina Mundi, and Ha-Mohasoa.

His years as a priest in Mazenod led to his promotion in 1978.
He found the Mohale’s-Hoek diocese underdeveloped but worked hard to improve Paul VI High School.
He built churches and schools in such areas Phechela, Ha-Nkau in Sekake, Ribaneng.
“He was always in the quest for knowledge not only for himself but others which led to his facilitating scholarships,” Reverend Makhetha says.

He says the cardinal was a strong figure who cherished his pastoral role to the point where he would visit outstations on horseback even in his later years, always ensuring that he would find a place of spiritual refuge or a chapel where he would make his prayers or preach to the pious.
This could have been one of the reasons why his plans led to the construction projects that he ensured would be supervised to the point of completion.

Not only did he build schools and churches, but he ensured that buildings and places of refuge such as soup kitchens, old age homes, and vocational study centres such as CTC in Mafeteng came into existence.
He was a visionary who foresaw the progress of the church and ensured such progress’ success by fully engaging in each individual project regardless of the distance from his usual place of habit.

He is a figure that traversed the mountains and ravines of this kingdom not only for the sake of the Catholic Church, but his love transcended religious affiliation.
“He saw everyone as a child of God bound to be guided by the grace granted by God upon mankind. His role was not that of a mediator when there were problems in governance, here he became the guiding light in instances where political turmoil seemed to throw the tiny kingdom into the winds of bane.”

Cardinal Khoarai was in charge of migrant labourers and ended setting up a shack that served as a soup kitchen for job-seekers that wanted to join the mines.
These young men who wanted to join the migrant labour force in South Africa got their meals for free at the makeshift soup kitchen erected by Cardinal Khoarai for their sake.

His effort was recognised by The Employment Bureau of Africa (Teba) and a bakkie was donated to ease the weight of ferrying the free meals to the poor miners, many of whom came from distant villages with their only hope being employment in the mines of distant South Africa.
With the Cardinal around, they knew they would not have to worry about food and lodging whilst they awaited their passage to the mines in South Africa.

Their Good Shepherd, Cardinal Koto Sebastian Khoarai, ensured they were safe and well-fed.
He was born on Septptember 11, 1929, at Koaling in the Diocese of Leribe, when Lesotho was still part of the former British protectorate of Basutoland.
Cardinal Sebastian Koto Khoarai was baptised a Catholic at the age of 11.
After studying at local seminaries, he entered the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1950.

He was ordained to the priesthood December 21, 1956, two days after having baptised his father, according to his Vatican biography.
After holding various positions in seminaries in Lesotho, he was named pastor of the parish in Mount Royal Mission and then superior of the Oblates in Mazenod.

He served as the Oblates’ provincial as the country won its independence from Britain in 1966.
In 1971, he was named vicar general of the Archdiocese of Maseru and pastor of the cathedral.
In November 1977, St. Paul VI named him the first bishop of Mohale’s-Hoek and he was ordained the following April.

Tšepiso Mothibi

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