COWBOYS’ league legend Jonathan Thurston is to be honoured with an invitation to speak at Mareeba’s annual Aboriginal Cultural Mass.
It’s a reward for a good faith gesture that has earned the respect of the town’s Augustinian priest, Fr Robert Greenup.
“He’s a thoroughly decent fellow who helps where he can,” Fr Greenup, parish priest at Mareeba’s St Thomas of Villanova Church, said.
Fr Greenup has applauded Cowboys’ star and 2018 Queenslander of the Year Thurston, as both a champion player and a role model.
Recently, the airline co-owned by Mr Thurston agreed to let Fr Greenup travel free on flights to the remote Aboriginal township of Coen during the wet season so he can celebrate Mass.
Fr Greenup had written to Skytrans Aviation, with a request for free travel because the airfares are expensive, and the partly-dirt Peninsula Developmental Road from Mareeba to Coen on the Cape is impassable in the Wet.
He usually visits Coen once a month to celebrate Mass at the Our Lady of the Way Church with the town’s faithful indigenous parishioners.
When The Catholic Leader reported on Mr Thurston’s Good Samaritan effort donating free air travel, the story went viral on social media.
“What a gift to God that he has done good ‘off the field’ especially bringing the word of Jesus to his people, he will be looked upon by God and yes he is being praised by Heaven,” Martin Smith wrote.
Great gesture indeed by JT supporting the even greater work by the humble Padre we are lucky enough to call our friend,” Fiona McEniry wrote.
“Such a wonderful role model to so many. Well done Johnathon,” Barbara Giles wrote.
Fr Greenup said it was suggested to him Mr Thurston should be asked to speak at St Thomas of Villanova’s Aboriginal cultural Mass, which will be held next year on October 18.
Mr Thurston already digs deep to serve north Queensland’s indigenous community.
He is an ambassador for the Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s anti-ice campaign and the Queensland Reconciliation Awards.
He also helped launch the $9.5 million Cowboys House, which is a home for 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from remote parts of North Queensland
“We are very grateful to him (JT),” Fr Greenup said as he prepared to travel to Coen for Mass.
He’ll be making the 600km trip north from Mareeba by car with indigenous Deacon Ralph Madigan. The monsoonal rains haven’t come yet and the road is passable.
“JT is revered up there in Coen. They are all mad Cowboys fans,” he said.