South Sudan among African Countries with Immense Growth: Catholic Charity Official

Christine du Coudray with some of her collaborators in South Sudan/ Credit: Aid to the Church in Need

An official of the Pontifical charity organization, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International has, at the end of her term in Africa, recognized growth in a number of African countries including South Sudan.

The Catholic charity has reported the retirement of Christine du Coudray who served as the ACN Head of Projects in Africa for close to three decades.

“The pontifical foundation ACN International bids farewell to Christine du Coudray as she retires after serving as coordinator of projects for Africa for many years,” the organization announced in its Wednesday, June 2 report.

Sharing her experience of a number of African countries she had been to, Ms. Coudray said she had seen immense growth specifically in South Sudan.

“My first trip took me to Tanzania in 1994, the last to Sudan in March 2020 right before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out,” the former ACN official says in the June 2 report.


She adds, in reference to South Sudan, “The situation there has changed drastically. Before, you would find a hut illuminated by a single candle, now electricity is supplied by solar panels. I have kept all of the journals with my notes!”

The native of France looks back at her years at ACN with gratitude and remembers the initial challenges, saying, “When I started work 28 years ago, I was hardly able to locate the African countries on a map. I accepted the challenge and started to build up my knowledge from zero.”

One of Ms. Coudray’s primary concerns was ensuring that her work would build bridges and strengthen the sense of community in the areas that ACN facilitates initiatives, she notes, and explains that her focus was always to work with people in charge on the ground, including Priests and Bishops.

“No matter how important the financial aid from our benefactors was and still is, we are there to listen to the Bishops, the Priests and the Religious Sisters, to share in their daily lives and to understand their needs,” she says in the June 2 report.

“There is a time to serve and a time to step down. After 28 years, I am ready for the latter,” Ms. Coudray says.

More in Africa

In the report, the Executive President of ACN International, Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern thanks the departing member of his staff for her close to three decades of service for the people of God in Africa, saying, “Christine du Coudray has rendered exceptional service to the Church on the African continent.”

“Anyone who is looking to serve Africa should learn how to do so from the Africans themselves. And that is exactly what Christine du Coudray did,” Dr. Heine-Geldern adds.

According to the ACN report, Ms. Coudray took over the position at the Pontifical charity organization in 1993. One year later, she travelled to Rome for the first African Synod where she was the only woman from Europe among the 350 participants.

“The encounter with the Church of Africa as it gathered around the Pope would have a major impact on her life,” the leadership of ACN reports about the official’s participation at the Rome event.

The Catholic charity has announced that it will not be able to mark her retirement by holding a public celebration and a service of thanksgiving due to the safety measures being taken because of COVID-19.


According to the ACN report, many Bishops from Africa have written in gratitude for Ms. Coudray’s work. Bishop Oscar Nkolo Kanowa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for example, thanked her for “her motherly heart that was always so empathetic to the Church in need.”

Bishop Paluku Sikuli Melchisédech of the Diocese of Butembo-Beni in Eastern Congo, a region plagued by war and violence, has also lauded the former ACN official’s support in difficult times especially “when the security conditions and the humanitarian situation had deteriorated dramatically.”

Bishop Daniel Adwok, the Auxiliary Bishop of Khartoum (Sudan), mentioned Ms. Coudray’s “keen interest in seminary education and the training of pastoral leaders in the different areas of evangelization.”

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.