He’s the $60 million man – literally. Over nearly three decades, Sydney man Phillip Collignon has raised more than $60 million in aid of poor and persecuted Christians around the world, The Catholic Weekly reports.
Mr Collignon is retiring at the end of this year after 27 years as national director of the Australian branch of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and the search is on for a successor.
Although reluctant to talk about his achievement of raising $60 million during his time with ACN, he admitted that when he first started with the organisation he never imagined such a thing would be possible.
Deflecting the achievement to others, he described ACN’s benefactors as “quite extraordinary... We’ve got a very loyal benefactor base. Last year they contributed over $5 million”.
For Mr Collignon, ACN has been very much a family affair. Both his father and his sister were directors of its Australian office before him. His wife Debbie is also office manager at their Annangrove office.
On the day Mr Collignon had his job interview with ACN in 1989, newspaper headlines were announcing the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany.
“That was providential, I think,” he said. “My career really started with the collapse of the Berlin Wall.”
Stepping into the role in February 1990, was “an intense learning curve” he said. “They were the heady days of the collapse of Communism and all our efforts to try to resurrect the Church in all those Eastern bloc countries.”
He said ACN’s current campaign in support of Iraqi and Syrian Christians who wish to return to their homelands following the demise of ISIS is “the biggest campaign ACN has ever funded”.
It is a “mammoth task” he says, with about $250 million needed to rebuild destroyed homes and churches.
From the beginning of the genocide of Christians in Iraq and Syria, ACN were on the ground assisting fleeing Christians.
“Without ACN and a number of other Christian groups those displaced people would not have survived,” he said. “The world did not come to their aid.”
Sydney’s $60 million man says farewell (The Catholic Weekly)