Bukoba — THE official re-burial of the late Laurean Cardinal Rugambwa, at the Bukoba Cathedral will be conducted in October, this year, Auxiliary Bishop Methodius Kilaini has disclosed.
Auxiliary Bishop Kilaini told the 'Daily News' in an interview that the re-burial of the late Cardinal Rugambwa, had been delayed due to major rehabilitation of the Bukoba Cathedral. "The rehabilitation and renovation of Bukoba Cathedral is in final touches. We expect that the body of the late Cardinal Rugambwa would be transferred from Kashozi Church on October 6, this year, while consecration will be on the following day," he said.
Laurean Cardinal Rugambwa, who in 1960 became the first African cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, died on December 8, 1997 in Dar es Salaam at the age of 85. His body was temporarily laid to rest in church at Kashozi parish, some 15km from Bukoba town.
His elevation to the College of Cardinals by Pope John XX111 was a signal of the church's recognition of its debt to its non-European clergy and of the growing importance of Catholic congregations in parts of the world that had once been in the domain of European missionaries.
Cardinal Rugambwa was an early and active participant in the Second Vatican Council. He also stressed the importance of involving the lay community in the work of the church. "In the missions, where separation is a fact of everyday life, we have to be ready to cooperate with non-Catholics in all possible ways.
The church is not a museum nor an archive, but a teacher of life," he stressed. Born on July 12, 1912 of an aristocratic family in Bukongo village-Kamachumu, in Muleba district, Laurean Rugambwa was baptized by missionaries when he was eight years old together with the rest of his family. After attending a seminary in Uganda, he was ordained as a priest on December 12, 1943.
After working as a missionary in western Africa for several years, he went to Rome in 1948 for further studies at the Urban University where he graduated with a doctorate in Canon law. He was appointed a bishop in 1951 and upon returning to Tanganyika in 1952 he became the country's first indigenous bishop, serving the diocese of Rutabo.
He was elevated to Cardinal by Pope John XX111 on March 28, 1960, becoming the first African cardinal. He was appointed Archbishop of Dar es Salaam on December 19, 1968, relinquishing those duties in 1992 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 80.
In a condolence message to Polycarp Cardinal Pengo of Dar es Salaam, the late Pope John Paul 11 described Cardinal Rugambwa as "the first Cardinal among all Africa's children and his close colleague." Among his legacy include Rubya and Mugana hospitals, Ntungamo Major Seminary and Rugambwa Girls' High School.