From MEDDY MULISA, Bukoba, | 21st October 2011 | Daily News THE official burial of the late Laurian Cardinal Rugambwa, at the Bukoba Cathedral will be conducted early next year, Auxiliary Bishop Methodius Kilaini has disclosed. Auxiliary Bishop Kilaini told the 'Daily News on Saturday' in an exclusive interview that the burial of the late cardinal had been delayed due to major rehabilitation of the Bukoba Cathedral. "The rehabilitation and renovation of the Bukoba Cathedral is at final stages. We expect that the body of the late Cardinal Rugambwa would be transferred from Kashozi church early next year," he said. Laurian 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 a church at Kashozi parish, some 15 kms from Bukoba town. His elevation to the College of Cardinals by Pope John XXIII was a signal of the church's recognition of its debt to its non-European clergy, and of the growing importance of the Catholic congregation in parts of the world that had once been 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 neither 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, Laurian Rugambwa was baptized by missionaries when he was eight years old with the rest of his family. After attending a seminary in Uganda, he was ordained a priest on December 12, 1943. After working as a missionary in western Africa for several years, he went to Rome in 1948 for higher 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 XXIII 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 II described Cardinal Rugambwa as "the first Cardinal among all Africa's children and his close colleague and his predecessors". Among his legacy include Rubya and Mugana hospitals, Ntungamo Major Seminary and Rugambwa Girls' High School.