CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 January 2018

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Star in rugby and in life

TOWNSVILLE (SE): To Australians it may be known as Cowboy Country in honour of its up and coming rugby league team, but its captain, Jonathan Thurston, is not just a star on the rugby paddock, but also in the life of the local communities.
 
As co-owner of Skytrans Airlines, Thurston, who is not just a rugby league genius, but also a candidate for Australian of the Year, has offered free flights during the wet season to Father Robert Greenup in order to celebrate Mass for a community of his indigenous brothers and sisters in Coen, some six hours driving on dirt roads from Mareeba, which makes it almost 1,000 kilometres from the club’s home ground.
 
During the four-month wet season the roads are impassible and flights to remote centres are incredibly expensive.
 
The Catholic Leader reports that Father Greenup makes the trip once a month with Reverend Ralph Madigan, an Australian Aborigine and a deacon.
 
He said that he sometimes celebrates Mass for three and sometimes for 60 or more for the people whose roots and history are set in a nomadic life style.
 
Thurston has been decorated for his work with organisations like Achieving Results Through Indigenous Education.
 
He is an ambassador for the Apunipima Cape York Health Council Anti-Drug Campaign and the Queensland Reconciliation Awards.
 
He also helped launch the A$9.5 million ($57 million) Cowboys House, which is a home for 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from remote parts of north Queensland while they are studying away from home.
 
But the little parish is a community affair and the local publican, Barry Mulley, led a volunteer team to paint the church inside and out in a demonstration of what people can do to keep communities together in the service of all residents.

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