On June 20, 2021 the faithful of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam along with other parishioners from neighboring dioceses gathered at Msimbazi to thank God for the gift of Archbishop Emeritus Polycarp Cardinal Pengo as he celebrates the 50th anniversary of his ordination to of priesthood.
In celebration of its own, the Holy Mass was attended by archbishops and bishops from almost all the archdioceses and dioceses in Tanzania.
On the occasion, Pope Francis has sent congratulatory messages to His Eminence Cardinal Polycarp Pengo the retired archbishop of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam which was delivered by the Vatican Ambassador to Tanzania Archbishop Marek Solczynski and then conveyed in Kiswahili by the Secretary of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam Father Frank Mtavangu.
Pope Francis congratulatory message reads in part, “Our dear brother His Excellency Polycarp Cardinal Pengo, we congratulate you from the bottom of our hearts for your heartfelt love and pastoral efforts shown to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam and before that the faithful of Nachingwea Diocese and later Tunduru-Masasi Diocese. We wish you happiness and comfort as we entrust you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary Mother of God with a cheerful heart. Full of brotherly love, we join you in prayer and wish you a blessing from our Apostolic authority.”
In his homily during the Eucharistic celebration, Bishop Eusebius Nzigilwa of the Catholic Diocese of Mpanda recalled how Cardinal Pengo left many pastoral marks in the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam where he has served for 37 years.
Bishop Nzigilwa said despite setting a record of being the first Tanzanian priest to be ordained a bishop by St. John Paul II on January 6, 1984, Cardinal Pengo has left many other marks on the Catholic Diocese of Dar es Salaam so much that other dioceses have begun to formulate strategies to follow what Cardinal Pengo has established.
Cardinal Pengo who earlier served as bishop of the Diocese of Nachingwea and the Diocese of Tunduru-Masasi has left a legacy of promoting financial self-reliance as he strongly urged the Catholic faithful to support the church by getting more involved themselves and abandoning the idea of donor dependency.
In 1994 while serving as bishop, he started the “Support the Diocese” an initiative through which he believed that a diocese could be financially self-sufficient to run all its pastoral activities without depending on donors.
Cardinal Pengo is also acknowledged for founding the Pontifical Mission Society for Holy Childhood in the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam in 1996. Since then, the Pontifical Missionary Society for Holy Childhood has been a catalyst for missionary visits to parishes in the peripheries, many of which have several pastoral challenges.
Cardinal Pengo’s pastoral life gained momentum in 1992 when he came up with a new vision of establishing the Catholic Women in Tanzania, (WAWATA) to support Visiga Minor Seminary.
Another memorable vision attributed to Cardinal Pengo is the founding of the Union of Catholic Men (UWAKA) in 2008 an association to whom he later entrusted with the responsibility of nurturing the Congregation of the Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi a diocesan congregation.
When he was appointed to Dar es Salaam, the Archdiocese had 38 parishes but by the time of his retirement, the Archdiocese had 118 parishes and 12 designated parishes.
In building pastoral solidarity, Cardinal Pengo established the Union of Diocesan and Religious Priests in order to unite all the clergy as one family.
For all these achievements, this Golden Jubilee celebration became an occasion for Tanzania’s President Madam Samia Suluhu Hassan to award Cardinal Pengo a Certificate of Recognition. She was represented by Tanzania’s Vice-President, Dr. Philip Mpango.
In her speech delivered by the Vice President during the event, President Suluhu expressed gratitude to the Archbishop-emeritus of Dar-es-Salaam Archdiocese and pledged to continue supporting the Catholic Church leaders’ initiatives.
“I wish to congratulate you for commemorating 50 years of priestly services. The government recognizes your efforts towards contributing to the strengthening of peace, unity and love among different faiths. The government will continue supporting your efforts,” President Suluhu stated.
On his part, the Vice-President Dr. Philip Mpango called upon all Tanzanians to learn from Cardinal Pengo the spirit of tolerance and sacrificing for those in needed. He encouraged the Cardinal who will be turning 77 in August this year to continue offering spiritual support to the government of the East African nation saying, “My appeal to you is that you should not get tired of praying for us, especially government leaders, so that we continue to deliver.”
Cardinal Pengo thanked all who took part in nurturing the growth of his vocation and all who encouraged him during his ministry as a Catholic priest and bishop.
Thousands of Catholics also gathered in his home Diocese of Sumbawanga on 29th June 2021, to continue celebrating with him the 50th anniversary of his priesthood.