Friday the Thirteenth is thought by some to be an inauspicious day. But in July it was a day of pleasant meetings for Anne Marie Coppock, our retiring Diocesan Manager, as she was treated to a surprise party at Our Lady of Dolours Parish Hall in Salford.
The evening kicked off with a tribute from Julian Filochowski, an old friend and former Director of CAFOD. Julian spoke of Anne Marie as a true woman of Vatican II and how she has lived out the message of the Conciliar document, “Gaudium et Spes“, The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Then family members, many friends and colleagues from Anne Marie’s long history with CAFOD took part in “This is your life!”, speaking with love, warmth and humour about their encounters with her along the way.
Anne Marie became involved with CAFOD as a volunteer, first as a founder member of the Parish Group at St John the Baptist’s, Burnley, in 1983. She made her first overseas visit – to Peru, on an “exposure visit” – in 1985. She joined CAFOD’s staff, as part-time North West Regional Assistant, in 1993, based first in Blackburn and then in Preston. Then in 2005 she became CAFOD Salford’s first full-time Diocesan Manager.
Guest speakers included Mgr John Corcoran, who helped initiate the Burnley group in 1983, and Frank Kendall, one of the other founder members. Frank had known Anne Marie longer than anyone else present – he was the head teacher at her primary school when she was 9 years old! Barbara Smethurst, one of the first Deanery Co-ordinators, travelled up from Norfolk to be present. Pete Grimshaw, her long-time colleague from the days at Blackburn and Preston, and volunteers from the Salford Office also spoke. And there were messages and good wishes from many people who were unable to attend.
With loads of food brought to share, and a well-stocked bar, this was truly a night to remember. We all wish Anne Marie a restful, happy and blessed retirement, but not too restful as we still hope to see her involved with CAFOD Salford in a voluntary role. Thank you Anne Marie for your infectious enthusiasm, commitment and determination to make the world a more just place, you have changed lives for the better.