The Dutch priest, who arrived in Australia in 1957 as a chaplain to Dutch immigrants, had known the “Bacon priest,” Father Werenfried van Straaten, founder of the Aid to the Church in Need, since their novitiate as Norbertines in the Abbey of Tongerlo, Belgium, in 1935-1936.
Father Werenfried approached him in 1950 and asked him to join his work to support and help refugees who fled Germany during World War II, and were living in places that did not have a Catholic church.
Father Coenen supervised and supported more than 30 “Chapel trucks” operated by missionary priests from all orders and countries.
The priest also helped Father van Straaten to aid Catholics in Iron Curtain countries, and later, in 1965, to establish the aid organization as it exists today.
Father Coenen moved from Sydney to Germany in 1969.