CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — Lesotho’s Cardinal-designate Sebastian Koto Khoarai is a much-loved pastoral man known for working very hard, say those who know the 87-year-old retired bishop of Mohale’s Hoek.
“Everyone in the country will tell you what a hard worker he is,” Sister Julia Mafike, a member of Handmaids of Christ the Priest, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview.
Cardinal-designate Khoarai, who will be the first cardinal from this southern African nation, “looks after children with disabilities, visits and helps people who are sick, and travels wherever he is needed to celebrate Mass,” she said.
He is humble and a person of prayer “the likes of which has never been seen before,” said Sister Mafike, who manages the diocesan center in Mohale’s Hoek, where Cardinal-designate Khoarai lives in retirement.
A member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, he was the first bishop of the Diocese of Mohale’s Hoek after it was created in 1977. He served as president of Lesotho’s bishops’ conference from 1982 to 1987.
“No one in the country expected” that one of their own would be named a cardinal, Sister Mafike said.
Lesotho, with its population of 2 million people, is a mountainous country surrounded by South Africa.
Booi Mohapi, who heads the Lesotho bishops’ justice and peace commission, told CNS that Cardinal-designate Khoarai “served the most impoverished region of the country” as bishop of Mohale’s Hoek.
He is a “very caring man,” Mohapi said in early October, noting that “only a week ago, I heard that he was giving money from his own pocket to help poor families in the diocese.”
Also, “as bishop right up until he turned 80, he took good care of the priests and other clergy and religious in his diocese,” Mohapi said.
Archbishop Gerard Tlali Lerotholi of Maseru told CNS the “whole country is excited, and we’re all wondering what having a Mosotho cardinal will mean to us in Lesotho.”
Despite being retired, Cardinal-designate Khoarai helps with the running of a children’s home for about 20 orphans, among the many projects he is involved in, Archbishop Lerotholi said.
He still has a lot of energy and “never does anything in small measures,” the archbishop said.
“He is a pastoral leader; always with people,” Archbishop Lerotholi said, noting that he is “exemplary in promoting Caritas’ work.”
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103