Catholic Aid Agency Commits Over US$5 million to Priests, Nuns in COVID-19 Prone Missions

An African Bishop reaching out to needy people affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

Priests and nuns ministering among those considered vulnerable to COVID-19 in various parts of the world including Africa stand to benefit from a €5M (US$5.43 million) grant that Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International has set aside, the Germany-based Catholic organization has announced.

“In the face of increased social distress worldwide due to COVID-19, this vital initiative will assist religious who lost their basic subsistence,” ACN International stated in a Press Release Thursday, April 9 referencing the provision of a financial subsidy of at least US$5 million “to priests and nuns caring for the most vulnerable communities around the world.”

The grant, which will be channeled through support of specific projects across Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, is expected to help Priests and nuns “continue to carry out their spiritual and social ministries, such as administering the sacraments, teaching the faith, caring for the sick and elderly, helping the poor and visiting prisoners.”

In Africa, at least 11,878 people across 52 countries have tested positive for COVID-19; 608 people have lost their lives and more than 1,548 have recovered.

According to ACN’s Executive President Thomas Heine-Geldern, the financial aid that is sourced from benefactors will “help ease the burden on our courageous religious, who stand on the front lines, bringing God’s love and compassion to our suffering brothers and sisters.”


“As a rising tide of human suffering related to COVID-19 makes itself felt around the world, the demand for social and spiritual care is soaring,” Heine-Geldern said and added, “Now more than ever, the Light and Hope of the Lord is needed.”

Referencing the additional challenges COVID-19 brings to the evangelization ministry in some contexts of the world including Africa, ACN International President remarked, “While the entire world is coping with the ravages of the pandemic, countless communities in developing countries -- already impoverished and with limited resources -- are particularly vulnerable in this crisis; often they are dependent on the local Church for social services, including health care.”

In the West African nations of Mali and Burkina Faso, ACN International has supported various initiatives of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (SIC), including the formation of candidates to this indigenous congregation, renovation of formation houses, music apostolate, installation of solar energy, as well as ministry among refugees and victims of violence.

In Ethiopia, the international pontifical charity has supported the training of Catechists, youth gatherings, retreats and other pastoral activities at parish level, including evangelization work among the Borana at the Holy Cross Parish in Dhadim, South of Ethiopia

In the North African countries, the organization supports “initiatives that particularly demonstrate to the younger population of the Christian minority what it means to be a member of the Church.”

More in Africa

In the East African nation of Kenya, ACN International has supported “projects in the areas of family pastoral care, pro-life measures, natural family planning and youth ministry.”

In the April 9 Press Release announcing the grant to “help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Heine-Beldern who has headed ACN since 2018 expressed his organization’s prayerful solidarity “with the brave and dedicated priests and nuns who give their all to serve the world’s most vulnerable communities, and with all who are suffering around the world.”

The 67-year-old German national described the financial aid that has been set aside as “a drop in the bucket in terms of what is and will be needed.”

However, he explained, “the Church plays a particularly vital spiritual and pastoral role in the day-to-day life of the world’s poorest Christian communities, and we must help strengthen the safety net it provides.”

He added, “I am so thankful to our donors, who, often despite their own pain and hardship, are reaching out to their fellow faithful. It is a beautiful gesture, one that is helping to keep the Faith alive.”



Fr. Don Bosco Onyalla is ACI Africa’s founding Editor-in-Chief. He was formed in the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans), and later incardinated in Rumbek Diocese, South Sudan. He has a PhD in Media Studies from Daystar University in Kenya, and a Master’s degree in Organizational Communication from Marist College, New York, USA.