Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is pleased to announce that Mr Bernard Toutounji has been appointed as the new National Director. Bernard replaces Mr Phillip Collignon, who retired from the role after 27 years of very successful leadership.
Founded by Fr Werenfried van Straaten in 1947, ACN is a Pontifical Foundation and the only international Catholic organisation that focuses on the pastoral and spiritual support of persecuted and suffering Christians. Through the contributions of 400,000 benefactors across 23 nations, ACN raises approximately AUD $200 million annually for some 5,000 projects in 140 countries.
Bernard comes to ACN Australia after a decade working in the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney in a range of roles, including in marriage and family, vocations, youth and social services. With a background in theology and business, Bernard has taught at a university level and written and spoken on faith and ethics both nationally and internationally. Bernard serves as a subdeacon in the Melkite Catholic Church, he is married to Jane and they have two young daughters with their third child due at Easter.
In accepting the position, Bernard seeks to build on the work of ACN Australia in supporting oppressed Christians around the world:
“It is an honour and privilege to be given the responsibility of leading ACN after the amazing tenure of Phillip, and indeed the entire Collignon family, which has guided this foundation in Australia since 1969. Our benefactors are a particularly generous and loyal group and I look forward to coming to know many of them, and at the same time taking the mission and work of ACN further across the nation.
“Christian persecution is very much alive and more Christians died for their faith in the last century than in the previous nineteen centuries of Christian history combined. The work of ACN – in building (and rebuilding) churches, in assisting poor seminarians and religious, and in collecting Mass offerings which support tens of thousands of priests – is more vital than ever. As a Church we cannot turn a blind eye to our brothers and sisters who are often oppressed and persecuted for simply proclaiming the name of Jesus.”
With thanks to ACN.