Tanzania celebrates 150 years of Catholicism

Cardinal John Njue shakes hands with President of Tanzania, John Magufuli

Thousands of Catholics in Tanzania joined by the president and other dignitaries celebrated 150 years of the Catholic faith in the country.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli and Pope Francis’ official representative at the celebrations Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi were at the Nov. 4 event at Bagamoyo, a coastal city, some 50 kilometers from Dar-es-Salaam.

The Kenyan cardinal called upon various sectors of Tanzanian society to honor their responsibilities, duties and to uphold peace in the country.

“This is the time to question ourselves whether the seeds of peace preached by the first missionaries in the early days of the Church have borne fruit and been protected,” Cardinal Njue told those gathered in Bagamoyo, according to Vatican News.

Retired Archbishop Josaphat Louis Lebulu of Arusha said, the next phase of the Church in Tanzania should be dedicated to investing in sustainable pastoral strategies that would more profoundly deepen the faith of Christians. Bagamoyo, the place where the festivities took place, was a significant site in the history of Catholicism in Tanzania because it was the first place where the Holy Ghost missionaries landed.

Bagamoyo was also chosen for the celebrations because it was a place where many African slaves were sold and transported from the port.

However, with the arrival of the missionaries, Bagamoyo transformed into a place of redemption, the Tanzanian archbishop said.

“We celebrate the great work done by missionaries who came to Tanzania at Bagamoyo in 1868. They installed the Holy Cross (at Bagamoyo), as a symbol of redemption from slavery, a symbol of faith to us,” Archbishop Lebulu said.