St. Augustine's Major Seminary 1924

Celebrating 100 years of priestly formation in Lesotho

As St. Augustine’s Major Seminary in Roma, Lesotho, celebrates its 100th anniversary, Archbishop Gerard Lerotholi, OMI, highlights the institution’s rich history of preparing priests and religious men and women for ministry.

By Sr. Katleho Khang, SNJM

The centenary of St. Augustine’s Major Seminary marks an important step in the evolution of the Catholic Church in Lesotho.

The country’s only major seminary is the alma mater of many Catholic leaders across Southern Africa. It has produced almost 20 bishops, over 500 priests, and many religious men and women.

Among its most well-known alumni was the first Mosotho Cardinal, the late Sebastian Koto Kharoai, OMI.

This connection was described by Archbishop Gerard Lerotholi, OMI, Chairperson of Catholic Education, Chancellor of St. Augustine’s seminary, and an alumnus, in an interview with Vatican News.

Archbishop Lerotholi said St. Augustine’s Major Seminary upholds its own vision, dedication, and sustainability as a formation institution for Church ministers.

“The 100 years of its existence highlights and puts into perspective the role and growth of local vocations through the visionary leadership of the Oblate Missionaries,” he said. 

He added that the seminary is proud of its teaching staff and the dedicated priests it has produced.

“What started out as small, local institution became a home for many priests in the Southern Africa, namely South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo,” he noted.

External view of St. Augustine’s Major Seminary in Roma
External view of St. Augustine’s Major Seminary in Roma

In a separate interview, another alumnus, South African Archbishop Dabula Mpako of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Pretoria, praised St. Augustine’s for its 100 years of service to the Church.

"It is with great rejoicing that I congratulate St Augustine’s Major Seminary on the occasion of the centenary celebration of its existence and for the laudable contribution made by this institution to the formation and training of future priests in Southern Africa over many years,” he said.

Archbishop Mpako shared that he continues to cherish the fond memories of his formative years in the priesthood as a seminarian at St. Augustine’s in the early 1980s.

“It was for me in the true sense of the Latin phrase Alma Mater—a 'nourishing mother!’ It is my prayer that the good work carried out through this seminary may continue well into the future,” he said.

The seminary recently opened its doors to lay people who are attracted by programs offered by the seminary. It is affiliated with the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome, according to Archbishop Lerotholi.

According to St. Augustine’s Rector, Father Paul Lekena, one of the institution’s goals is to offer relevant programs, as well as a reputable image to keep the Church meaningful to people in the context of present-day formation.

“Within the country, it has been regarded as multicultural, multi-denominational and inclusive,” he added. Over the years, St. Augustine’s has been known for promoting positive thinking, as some of its alumni hold leadership positions both in the Church and the government in Lesotho.

Finally, Fr. Lekena shared his hopes that St. Augustine’s major Seminary will develop into an institution that offers both priestly formation and programs that directly contribute to the needs of people in Southern Africa.

St. Augustine’s major seminary was founded by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate missionaries.

Listen to Archbishop Tlali Gerard Lerotholi, OMI


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09 July 2024, 09:29