“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour”
— (Mt 25:13)
On Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at 11:30am God called his servant Abbot Placidus (Peter) Mtunguja to his kingdom.
Father Abbot Placidus (Peter) Mtunguja was born on 21 February 1963, to the parents Paul John and Mrs. Fabiana Seleman Gao, in Sakharani diocese of Tanga. He was the fifth of eight children of Mr. Paul John and Mrs. Fabiana Seleman Gao. He was baptized on 23rd March 1963 receiving the name Pater.
After completing primary school from Kwekitui in 1983, Peter was interested in joining the Benedictine Monks after seeing the good example of Fr. Burkhard Schneider, OSB, his parish priest and a famous Benedictine missionary. So in 1984 he joined the Capuchin Seminary in Maua Moshi for secondary education where he graduated in 1990.
In 1990 he came to Ndanda to begin his monastic formation. From 1991 to 1994 he studied Philosophy at Spiritan Missionary Seminary in Arusha where he was awarded a Bachelors Degree in philosophy. In 1994, Peter was clothed as a novice by Abbot Siegfried Hertlein and he was given the name Placidus meaning “Gentle”, and that is how he was! Placidus took the first monastic vows in 1996. For four years from 1996 to 2000 Placidus studied theology at the Salvatorian Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Morogoro where he was awarded a degree in Sacred Theology. Bro. Placidus took the final monastic vows in 2000.
Right from the beginning of his monastic life Abbot Placidus showed great leadership ability. This made him a leader to his fellow brothers during all levels of the initial monastic formation. Thus it did not take long for his leaders to discover his ability hence developing him as future formator. From 1999-2000 during his pastoral year as part of theological studies Br. Placidus was assigned to assist in the formation house where he formed those young men who came to commence monastic life. He was ordained priest on 14th July 2001 by the late Bishop Gabriel Mmole of Mtwara. Immediately after ordination Abbot Siegfried assigned him as a formator in the formation house. Then from 2002-2010 he was the novice master of our abbey. After eight years as the novice master Fr. Placidus was sent to work as the Parish Priest at St. Paul Parish Majengo in Mtwara Diocese. Fr. Placidus adjusted well to the parish work where he enjoyed serving the Christians of Majengo Parish with all its outstations.
When Fr. Placidus started settling and enjoying his pastoral work, in 2015 he was elected the 5th abbot of Ndanda being the first local monk to be elected the abbot. He took as his motto: “peace and unity”. His desire was always to have peace, unity and harmony in the community. In his leadership, Abbot Placidus was truly a “Father” as St. Benedict points out in his Rule that the abbot should be the father by the example of his life and teachings. Abbot Placidus was a good link between the generation of missionary and local monks of Ndanda Abbey. He maintained and continued the good foundations laid by our elders spiritually, administratively and economically. In short, he truly developed the Benedictine motto of ORA et LABORA.
Abbot Placidus had no history of severe sicknesses. He always looked healthy, active and happy. It is customary that at the beginning of each year he visits our brothers in dependent houses of our abbey and he did so this year too. He also participated in various ecclesiastical and national events. He came back to Ndanda on 15th February 2021 and on Ash Wednesday he celebrated the Mass and gave conference to the community. However he felt tired perhaps due to the long journey he made.
On 17th February 2021 Abbot Placidus went to Ndanda hospital because of the headaches and fatigue. Preliminary tests did not show any problem. Therefore he was given some medication and allowed to go back home where he was advised to rest. On 23rd March 2021 Abbot Placidus returned to the hospital after finishing the medication he was given. He still felt headache. His body was also weak. He was now admitted. Because of the weakness of the body the doctors gave him oxygen to assist him in breathing.
From 25th to 28th 2021 the condition of the Abbot was always changing. A panel of doctors wanted to bring him to a referral hospital but it was not possible because of the constant changes in his condition. However, the doctors were convinced that he was on the right treatment.
On 1st March his condition changed and he was brought into Intensive Care Unit. At 04:45am the patient’s condition changed and blood oxygen levels dropped abruptly. The patient was put on respiratory machine but the condition did not improve. The doctors tried to perform cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) but failed. At 05:30 am Abbot Placidus died.
We thank the doctors, nurses and other staffs for their great efforts to save the life of our beloved Abbot Placidus. We thank his blood relatives especially his brother Fr. Anton Mtunguja from Tanga who came to take care of him. God bless them all.
Abbot Placidus died aged 58 years, approaching 25th jubilee of monastic life (29.06.2021) and approaching 20 years of Priesthood (14.07.2021 and 6 years as an abbot.
“The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”.
— Prior Bro. Yohanes Mango, OSB and the monks of Ndanda abbey March 9, 2021