MORE than 2800 worshippers joined in the Sesquicentenary Mass of Thanksgiving in Brisbane on July 30 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Church in Queensland.
Present were international, national and local guests including Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Philip Wilson, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Queensland bishops and bishops from around Australia as well as religious leaders representing the Uniting, Anglican, Lutheran, Salvation Army, Coptic Orthodox and Assemblies of God denominations.
Principal celebrant Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane also welcomed the priests of Queensland present and the religious sisters and brothers “who, over the one-hundred-and-fifty years, have contributed to much to the Church of Queensland”.
“I welcome also the lay people from Brisbane, Queensland,” he said from a purpose-built sanctuary area in Brisbane’s Exhibition and Convention Centre.
“In a special way I welcome the young people of Queensland who will carry our Church forward into the future.
“We need your presence so much.”
Archbishop Bathersby also recognised the presence of various political and civic leaders and indigenous representatives, some of whom had opened proceedings with a dramatic presentation.
“We gather tonight to praise and worship God, thanking God for God’s many blessings over the past one-hundred-and-fifty years as we pray for God’s continued blessing in the years that lie ahead,” he said.
Archbishop Martin delivered the homily and spoke of the history and development of the Roman Catholic tradition in Ireland.
“I come to celebrate but also to observe, to learn and to celebrate … this initial input of Irish Catholicism in the Australian Church …
“Australian Catholicism has indeed developed into a rich tapestry of different traditions united by the one Catholic faith and for that we thank God.”
To a rousing applause Archbishop Martin also recognised the contribution and leadership of Brisbane’s current archbishop, saying, “It’s only right to pay tribute to … John Bathersby for his leadership in ecumenical collaboration, just one of (his) many talents, gifts and human qualities”.
While the Mass continued for two hours, it concluded with more rousing applause from attendees, particularly acknowledging the extraordinary and spirit-filled worship led by St Stephen’s Cathedral music director Dr Ralph Morton, the St Stephen’s Cathedral choir and others.