FEDERAL Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch and Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion have paid tribute to the late Bishop Saibo Mabo who was laid to rest at a funeral service on Thursday Island last month.
Bishop Mabo was born on 14 May 1947 on Murray Island in the Torres Strait. He passed away two days before his 70th birthday on 12 May 2017 after a short illness.
His funeral service was held at All Souls and St Bartholomew Anglican Church on 16 June 2017, the same place where he was consecrated as a Bishop in February 2002.
From the age of 17 Bishop Mabo chose to work tirelessly to spread his faith in God and support indigenous people across Far North Queensland and the rest of Australia.
Bishop Mabo worked as the National Torres Strait Islander Bishop from 2002 to 2015. He also spent time representing the Anglican Church of Australia on the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Council. At the time of his passing, Bishop Mabo was working as the Parish Priest at All Souls and St Bartholomew Anglican.
Mr Entsch said he had worked with Bishop Mabo on many issues over the years, including the successful restoration of the Quetta Parish Hall on Thursday Island which Mr Entsch suggested the pair lead as a community initiative.
Together they formed the Parish Hall Restoration Project Committee with Mr Entsch in the role as Patron and Bishop Mabo as the chair, with the fundraising campaign driven by community members representing a range of local companies and industry groups.
“The restoration of this run?down little hall really captured people’s imagination. It also brought the community together with committee members meeting almost every week for a year, which turned out to be a very social occasion,” said Mr Entsch.
“It was an amazingly successful community-driven project and enough money was raised to complete the restoration of this beautiful historic Anglican Church hall.”
“Bishop Mabo also faced some very tough challenges in his role, especially when eight Torres Strait children were found dead in their home in Murray St, Manoora in 2014. It was Bishop Mabo who people turned to for support and understanding,” said Mr Entsch.
“He was a beacon of light for all, always wanting to learn more about his faith so he could better serve God and others. This led him to travel to South America, England and New Zealand in order to achieve this.”
Bishop Mabo believed he had to complete the call of Jesus Christ, and that he would only stop when Jesus told him to.
Mrs Sania Mabo, the wife of the late Bishop Mabo, described him as a respectable, always smiling and joking, very humble and calm man who would always be remembered in her heart.
“Bishop Mabo will forever be remembered for his strong faith and unrelenting guidance and support for Australia’s indigenous people, especially those who live here in Far North Queensland,” said Mr Entsch.
“It has been an honour to have known such an inspiring individual who made an enormous and positive difference to the lives of so many.”
Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said Bishop Mabo would be remembered for continuing a great tradition among Torres Strait church leaders who embraced the church while maintaining custom and culture.
The late Bishop Mabo is survived by his wife, two sons and 7 grandchildren.