Cardinal Sebastian Koto Horai dies at death
Victor Vladimirov – Vatican City
Sebastian Koto Horai was born on September 11, 1929 and was baptized at the age of eleven. In his youth, he joined the ranks of missionaries-oblates of the Immaculate Virgin Mary; studied philosophy and theology at the theological seminary under the Archdiocese of Maseru. In 1956, he was ordained a priest and two days after taking ordination, he taught the Sacrament of Baptism to his father. For twenty years, the priest held leadership positions in theological seminaries, church parishes and in his monastic congregation. In 1975, the prelate became the first director of the Pontifical Missionary Societies in Lesotho and Assistant to the Commission of the Laity Apostleship. On November 10, 1977, Pope Paul VI appointed him the first bishop of the new Lesotho diocese of Mohale Hawk. After his ordination, Sebastian Koto Horai led the local Church for 36 years: during this time, the number of baptized people increased by more than 20%, and the main theological seminary could no longer accommodate all the students who answered the call. From 1982 to 1987, Sebastian Koto Horai was President of the Lesotho Episcopal Conference; thanks to him, the educational structures of the Catholic Church became the leading ones in the country. The hierarch retired in May 2006, but after that he continued his ministry as an apostolic administrator. On February 11, 2014, at the age of 84, he resigned from the pastoral administration of the diocese.
On November 19, 2016, Pope Francis elevated an African prelate – the first ever representative of Lesotho – to the rank of cardinal. The hierarch enjoyed great recognition in the country and was surrounded by the love of the inhabitants, who unanimously considered him “a great worker” and “a man of God.”
With the death of Sebastian Koto Horai, the College of Cardinals has 224 hierarchs, of whom 126 are voters and 98 are non-voting. Since the newly reposed hierarch was the only cardinal from the Kingdom of Lesotho, this country is no longer represented in the College of Cardinals, which now includes hierarchs from 88 countries, including 49 cardinals who are monastics.