Returning to his roots - Meet Fr. Thierry Koula, SVD
Fr. Thierry Koula, SVD completed his formation program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, was ordained in 2016, and is now serving in Chad in Central Africa.
"I was delighted to go back to Africa and fulfill my vocational dream: to serve God’s people in the remote areas of Africa, the continent where I had my roots. I was born in Togo, a small country in West Africa. Africa probably needs more priests than other continents.
Many Christian communities in Africa will go an entire year without seeing a priest. Thus, it was my deep desire to serve in Africa if God allowed me to be ordained to the priesthood. And yet, I felt uneasy about going to Chad.
I still remember the reactions of some friends when I told them. Most were seriously scared and warned me that I made the wrong choice! They said that Chad has a very hot climate and a high number of malaria cases and that it lacks basic amenities: running water, electricity, health care centers, food and internet connection. Terrorist groups such as Boko Haram operate from Chad’s neighboring countries. Opting to go and live there, leaving the comfort zone of the United States, sounded and felt scary indeed.
I was assigned to Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Moundou as the assistant parish priest. The church is full and vibrant on Sundays! Whether in the parish or at the outstations, all seats are occupied and many people are standing outside during Mass.
But I realized that the joyful people that I met during the Eucharistic and other celebrations hid a great deal of anguish and turmoil. Parents are not able to take care of their children. Educational and health structures do not exist, and those that exist are not well-equipped. Alcoholism and HIV/AIDS are rampant among parishioners. The majority of teenage girls get pregnant. In addition, there isn’t enough infrastructure within the parish. In Chad, a priest is everything and this drains us a lot. Nevertheless, I am joyful to serve the people who are really in need."