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.
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.