|Birth: ||Jul. 12, 1912|
|Death: ||Dec. 8, 1997|
The First African to become a Member of the Sacred College of Cardinals, Laurean Rugambwa, Former Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Dar-es-Salaam and Cardinal Priest of the Title of S. Francesco d'Assisi a Ripa Grande, was born in Bukongo, Tanganyika, nowadays Tanzania, to an aristocratic pagan family from the Nsiba tribe. His father came from the clan that gave chiefs to the named tribe. When Laurean was seven years of age, his father converted to Christianity, followed soon after by his wife. Their son started studying catechism at the Kagondo Mission of the White Fathers when he was eight and was baptized on March 19, 1921, taking the name Laurean, in the Kagonodo Mission. His surname means "future celebrity" and if he did become chief, he could permit himself the luxury of three or four wives.
After completing his primary education at the Mission of Rutabo, where he learned to read and write his native dialect, besides English, Latin, Italian and Swahili, Laurean entered the Regional Grand Seminary of Katigondo, Uganda, under the care of the White Fathers. Ordained to the Priesthood at 31 years of age on December 12, 1943, by Bishop Burkhard Huwiler M.Afr., he pursued further studies at the Scientific Missionary Institute De Propaganda Fide in Rome, Italy, between 1948 and 1951, obtaining a Doctorate Magna Cum Laude in Canon Law.
At the early age of 39, Father Rugambwa was appointed Apostolic Vicar of Lower Rugera by Pope Pius XII, receiving his Episcopal Consecration with the Titular See of Febiana from Archbishop David Mathew, assisted by Bishops Joseph Kiwánuka M. Afr., and Joseph Blomjous M.Afr., in Rutabo, becoming thus, the first African Bishop to be consecrated in East Africa.
Upon his Apostolic Vicariate's elevation to a Diocese on March 25, 1953, Monsignor Rugambwa was named the First Bishop of Rutabo. There, he founded the Rubya and Mugana Hospitals, the Major Seminary of Ntungamo, and a Secondary School for Girls which carries his name.
At 47 years of age, Bishop Rugambwa became the First African Cardinal, when Pope John XXIII elevated him to the Sacred College in the Consistory of March 28, 1960. He received the Title of S. Francesco d'Assisi a Ripa Grande three days later. On the following June 21, his Diocese was renamed Bukoba.
The progressive Cardinal Rugambwa was an early and active participant in the Second Vatican Council, advocating the internationalization of the Roman Curia and the adaptation of the liturgy to local customs and music. In 1961, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Laws from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, United States of America.
Promoted to the Metropolitan See of Dar-es-Salaam by Pope Paul VI on December 19, 1968, along his Episcopate he introduced several Religious from different Congregations both men and women, who helped him to open many Parishes in the predominantly Muslim city of Dar-es-Salaam. He built first Catholic Hospital in Ukonga, founded a Religious Order for women, the Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and twenty elementary schools.
A strong voice for ecumenism and undisputed leader of all religious denominations, Catholics, Protestants and Muslims, he retired from the Pastoral Government of his See on July 22, 1992, and was succeeded by his Coadjutor, Monsignor Polycarp Pengo. Cardinal Rugambwa passed away in Dar-es-Salaam on Monday, December 8, 1997, at 10.15 pm., aged 85. In a condolence message sent to his successor, Pope John Paul II wrote, "the first Cardinal among all Africa's children and a close colleague of myself and my predecessors." The Cardinal was laid out in state at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Dar-es-Salaam, where Solemn Funeral Mass was also held on Saturday, December 13. Cardinal Rugambwa was buried temporarily in the Church of Kashozi, the first mission of the Bukoba Rural District, North Tanzania some 15 kilometres from Bukoba town. There he rested until October 2012, when his remains were transferred to the Cathedral of Bukoba, after restorations on the latter were completed. The transfer of his remains coincided with the centenary of his birth.
Cathedral Of Bukoba
Created by: Eman Bonnici
Record added: Apr 10, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 88295422
It Was You, O God, Who Made Your Servant Cardinal Rugambwa, A Successor Of The Apostles By Raising Him To The Episcopal Order. May He Also Be Associated With Them Forever. We Ask This Through Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.|
Added: Apr. 10, 2012