MASERU –— The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) will celebrate its 150th year Jubilee in November at the Pope John Paul II’s statue in Maseru.
The pre-celebrations will be held at the Catholic Church dioceses of Maseru, Leribe, Mohale’s Hoek and Qacha’s Nek in October.
The Lesotho RCC head Archbishop Tlali Lerotholi announced this week that the 150th year celebration were aimed at looking back at the history of the church to see the accomplishments made since the establishment of the church in the mid 19th century.
“During the celebrations we will be looking at the achievements of the church, evaluate our circumstances and find a way forward in our ministry,” Archbishop Lerotholi said.
“When the church was established in 1862 it was headed by the French and Canadian missionaries but after 1961 Basotho took over,” he said.
The first Mosotho catholic bishop was Paul ’Mabathoana.
He said when the missionaries joined they had a lot of work to do as Basotho had a different culture, traditions and customs.
The community of the church has grown and some members who are joining the church are coming from other churches, he added.
“Unlike in the past when people were joining the church because they were heathens who wanted spiritual rebirth we currently have people joining the church in large numbers including those from other denominations.”
He said some of the church’s achievements included the establishment of schools and the National University of Lesotho (NUL) then called Pius VI College.
The church also owns four hospitals and clinics around the country as well as a newspaper and radio station, he said.
Catholicism in Lesotho is part of the worldwide Catholic Church under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome.
A majority of Christians in Lesotho are Catholics.
Many Christians still practice their traditional cultural beliefs and rituals along with Christianity.
The Catholic Church has fused some aspects of local culture into its services.
For example, the singing of hymns during services has developed into a local and traditional way of singing in Sesotho.
In addition priests are seen dressed in local regalia during services.
The prominent role of the Catholic Church in the country derives from the successful establishment of Catholic schools in the last century and their influence over education policy.
The Catholic Church used to own about 75 percent of primary and secondary schools in the country, in addition to its role in establishing the National University of Lesotho.
It has four dioceses with Maseru being its archdiocese.