Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is pleased to announce that Mr Bernard Toutounji has been appointed as the new National Director.
Mr Toutounji replaces Mr Phillip Collignon, who retired from the role after 27 years.
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.
Mr Toutounji comes to ACN Australia after a decade working in the 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, Mr Toutounji has taught at a university level, as well as having written and spoken on faith and ethics both nationally and internationally.
He also serves as a subdeacon in the Melkite Catholic Church and is married to wife Jane. Together they have two young daughters with a third child due at Easter.
In accepting the position, Mr Toutounji said he is keen 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,” Mr Toutounji said.
“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.
Mr Toutounji went on to say that Christian persecution is very much alive and more Christians died for their faith in the last century than in the previous 19 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.”