By Paul Dobbyn
“WE gather here this afternoon to celebrate his 26 years of life … that’s what we’re doing here this afternoon – to give thanks for Phillip Joel Hughes.”
Nambucca Heads parish priest Fr Michael Alcock, with these words, opened an emotional funeral service in the fallen cricketer’s hometown of Macksville, NSW.
“To all of us here, Phillip’s extended family, immediate family and friends, we give God thanks for the blessings of this young man,” Fr Alcock said.
“To those both near and far whom his life has touched, we pray we will feel some consolation as we celebrate his life.”
The Australian Test cricketer’s funeral, attended by thousands, was held just after noon on Wednesday, December 3, in the Macksville Recreational Hall not far from Hughes’ childhood school, St Patrick’s.
The talented and much-admired cricketer sustained traumatic brain injuries from a bouncer during a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground on Tuesday, November 25.
The 25-year-old, who was to turn 26 the following Sunday, underwent brain surgery and was put in an induced coma in Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital but never regained consciousness, dying on Thursday, November 27.
Hughes’ death sparked numerous memorial events.
These included a Mass in Rome in the chapel of the Venerable English College on the evening of December 2.
During a biannual plenary meeting in Sydney, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference prayed before St Mary of the Cross’ tomb the day Mr Hughes died.
“The death of Phillip Hughes, a talented 25-year-old cricketer, reminds us that life is at once precious and fragile,” an ACBC statement said.
The bishops also prayed for NSW paceman Sean Abbott who delivered the bouncer that injured Hughes.