Catholic Religious Institute in Sudan Considers Relocating School following Bombing

Members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in Sudan. Credit: Agenzia Info Salesiana

The leadership of St. Joseph Vocational Training Centre (VCT) situated in Khartoum, Sudan’s embattled capital city, is mulling over a plan to move the institution to a safer place following a bombing that destroyed part of the facility under the auspices of Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB).

Fr. Jacob Thelekkadan, the Director of the vocational training centre, has told ACI Africa that the centre has been hit alongside other Catholic Church facilities as war rages on in Sudan.

In his Friday, May 5 statement to ACI Africa, Fr. Thelekkadan recalls the April bombing of various Catholic facilities in Sudan including the April 20 rocket attack on a Catholic Cathedral, saying, “Just as the two bombs that fell in the compound of the Cathedral in El Obeid… another fell near the northern end of St. Joseph Vocational Training Centre, destroying partly the meeting-hall of the students.”

St. Joseph VTC is located just about three kilometers away from one of the bases of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the paramilitary force under General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo that is in battle with army units of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) that are loyal to the head of Sudan's transitional governing Sovereign Council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who led the coup against the transitional government in October 2021.

The training centre is also vulnerable to attacks as it is located just about four kilometers away from the presidential palace and some five kilometers away from Khartoum International airport, where battles have reportedly been raging.


Apart from St. Joseph Vocational Training Centre, which has over 500 students, SDB members also run St. Joseph Parish situated about 23 kilometers south of Khartoum and the Don Bosco Vocational Training Centre in El Obeid, a city about 500 kilometers south of the embattled Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum.

In his statement to ACI Africa, Fr. Thelekkadan says that St. Joseph VCT being too near the conflict area suffers much more than the other two Salesian institutions.  

“The members of this Salesian presence have stayed on in the institute despite sounds of large-scale shootings and explosions. If and when the situation becomes life-threatening, they plan to move to one of the other Salesian communities in Sudan as they are relatively in a safer position,” the SDB Priest says.

He adds, “It is worth mentioning that the people who live about seven kilometers south of Khartoum are relatively carrying on their lives as normal except for some sporadic shootings now and then. Thus, the Salesian community of St. Joseph Parish, about twenty-three kilometers south of Khartoum is able to continue its mission more or less in the normal style.”

Fr. Thelekkadan recalls events of April 15 which marked the beginning of the war, saying that the school administration had managed to send home staff and students at the Khartoum-based learning institution.

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The Salesian Priest says that fighting in Khartoum has “continued unabated during the day as well as night” even after a seven-day ceasefire had been announced to allow peace talks between representatives of warring parties in the country.

And as the ceasefire is violated and the war continues, many areas of Khartoum and elsewhere  have no electricity and water, Fr. Thelekkadan says in his statement to ACI Africa, and adds, “Shops and markets are closed and streets are abandoned.”

The prayer of the Sudanese people is that “good sense may prevail” and that the leaders of the warring sides may negotiate for an end to their hostilities and pave a path for lasting peace in the country, the SDB member says.

The Indian-born SDB member adds that he has lived in Sudan for the past twenty-eight years and in South Sudan for eight years, and understands the thirst of the people for lasting peace and security in their countries.

“I pray earnestly that God intervenes as soon as possible, making use of all possible means to bring lasting peace to Sudan! May God bless the Sudan and all people in the Sudan!” Fr. Thelekkadan implores in his May 5 statement to ACI Africa.


In a Thursday, May 4 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Zobinou Komlan Hubert, who is the Parish Priest of St. Joseph Kalakla Parish of the Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum confirmed that churches and church properties in Sudan are being targeted in the fighting.

“We heard about some churches that were destroyed,” Fr. Komlan said, adding that he had heard of the bombing of the Catholic Church of Bahari administered by members of the Comboni Missionaries in Khartoum.

“We don't know how grave the damage was. The same situation with the Coptic Church of the same area. We also heard from one member of Saint Martin de Pores Brothers community that our Cathedral was also affected,” he told ACI Africa.

The Togolese SDB Priest at the helm of the Parish located some 15 kilometers South of the Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, added, “There were some explosions around the Parish of Mayo, our neighboring parish, but the church was not affected according to those who went there.”

“So far we have not heard about people who died in these disasters except one woman who sells tea and coffee near the Cathedral who was killed the first day,” Fr. Fr. Komlan said.

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In a previous interview with ACI Africa, the SDB Priest expressed skepticism about a ceasefire in Sudan, saying that such efforts had never worked before.

“The ceasefire has been announced twice already, but was not respected,” Fr. Komlan said during the May 3, making reference to two successive three-day ceasefires that were reportedly violated.

As for Fr. Komlan, the possible way to resolve the violent conflict in Sudan is “serious negotiation”.

“The possible way to resolve the violence in Sudan is the call for serious negotiation that can lead to an agreement that can involve the civilians as it was agreed in 2019 so that a way forward for better transition will be considered,” the Togolese SDB Priest told ACI Africa on May 4.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.