Papal Nuncio Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa returning to Rome

Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, the Apostolic Nuncio to Aotearoa New Zealand, left for Rome today as he continues his recovery from a stroke.

Archbishop Rugambwa (pictured above at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Palmerston North, in 2023) was appointed the Apostolic Nuncio – the Pope’s chief diplomatic representative in New Zealand – in March 2019.

He suffered a stroke last 27 October and has been recovering and undergoing rehabilitation in Wellington since.

Archbishop Rugambwa left Wellington this afternoon accompanied by Sr Maria Ann Singer, LSP (Little Sisters of the Poor) and Fr Giosuè Busti, First Secretary-Deputy Head of Mission at the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See (papal embassy). He will continue his rehabilitation at a Catholic facility in Rome.

Bishop of Auckland Stephen Lowe, the President of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference, asks Catholics to keep Archbishop Rugambwa in their prayers.

“It is with much sadness that we farewell Archbishop Novatus,” says Bishop Lowe. “The bishops acknowledge our deep gratitude for his services to the Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific. We pray for his safe travels to Rome and we invoke the prayers of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven, our New Zealand patroness, for his healing and continued wellbeing.”

Bishop Lowe noted Archbishop Rugambwa had overseen the appointment of bishops in five of the country’s six dioceses during his time here – Bishop Lowe in Auckland, Archbishop Paul Martin SM in Wellington, Bishop Michael Gielen in Christchurch, Bishop John Adams in Palmerston North and Bishop Richard Laurenson in Hamilton.

Some two years of Archbishop Rugambwa’s time in New Zealand encompassed the period of the Covid-19 pandemic, with churches often closed by government decree as a public health measure.

  • Update 18 March 9am:  Archbishop Novatus has arrived in Rome after a smooth journey.