SHE may be Australia's first Catholic saint, but Sunday's service for Mary Mackillop in Sydney was an event that unified all races and religions, according to Member for Hinkler Paul Neville.
Mr Neville, who attended the service at St Mary's Cathedral on behalf of National Party leader Warren Truss, said it was “very humbling” to be able to share in the historic service, which celebrated Mary's entry into the Catholic church's canon of saints.
The MP, himself a Catholic, said the service was a great tribute to a woman who was ahead of her time.
“It was very moving,” he said.
“St Mary's Cathedral is about as close as you can get to the mother church of Catholicism in Australia, and it was packed to the teeth.
“It was full of all sorts of dignitaries, especially nuns from all kinds of orders, clergy from all religions, members of parliament, and even some members of the heraldic orders.
“It was also very multicultural - this wasn't just an Anglo-Saxon Christian event.”
Mr Neville said he was thrilled at the canonisation of Mary Mackillop - now known as St Mary of the Cross - after all the hard work that had been done to lobby for her sainthood.
He said the service was also a good opportunity to remember Mary's connections to Bundaberg.
“Her order of nuns opened St Joseph's primary school in 1876 and the convent they used to live in still exists,” he said.
St Joseph's recently unveiled a statue of Mary in its grounds, and last week its pupils did a “pilgrim walk” in the lead-up to their founder's canonisation.
Mr Neville said he felt honoured to have been present at the statue unveiling, as well as at the special service in Sydney over the weekend.
“Everything was done to perfection - Bishop Julian Porteous gave a very good sermon and the choir was magnificent,” he said.
“I'll look back on this and think of the privilege of being part of something very special.”