Two prominent Catholics will be among the Australian contingent attending the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II alongside the Prime Minister and Governor-General in London next Monday.
Sydney father Danny Abdallah, who with wife Leila, inspired the world after forgiving the driver who killed three of their children, and Aboriginal elder and 2021 Senior Australian of the Year Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM is among them.
Anthony Albanese said Buckingham Palace requested 10 “everyday” citizens who had made meaningful contributions to their communities to be invited.
Mr Abdallah co-founded i4Give Day following the 2020 crash at Oatlands, which claimed the lives of Sienna, 8, Angelina, 12, and Antony, 13, and their cousin Veronique Sakr, 11 in a horror crash while they were getting ice cream.
“It is a great honour to be chosen to represent the country at the funeral of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II …”
He said he was honoured to represent all Australians at the final farewell to Britain’s longest reigning monarch.
“It is a great honour to be chosen to represent the country at the funeral of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and I am grateful to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for inviting me to attend on behalf of all Australians,” he said.
“Her Majesty was a woman of deep Christian faith who demonstrated that great leaders commit themselves to the service of their people.
“I will carry the prayers, gratitude and well wishes of all Australians with me to her funeral.”
The couple have been passionate about sharing how they have gained strength and solace from their Catholic faith.
In July this year, they were invited by Pope Francis to speak at the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome, sharing their story of forgiveness on an international stage at the largest gathering of Catholic families on the planet.
Aboriginal elder Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM has also been honoured with an invite.
The renowned artist, activist, writer and public speaker was the Northern Territory’s first fully qualified indigenous teacher despite never attending secondary school.
“She is admired throughout Australia for the leadership and commitment she has shown, promoting education within Aboriginal communities.”
She became the principal of the Catholic school in her home community before being appointed to the government’s National Indigenous Council. She was also awarded a Member of the Order of Australia medal in 1998 for service to the community and will receive an honorary doctorate from the Australian Catholic University next month.
She is an advisor to the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Justice and Peace Office and will be speaking at an event they are hosting on 7 October. She is working on its Reconciliation Action Plan with Fr Frank Brennan SJ, to be released later this year.
Baptised in the Catholic Church at age 15, the Nauiyu Nambiyu woman is admired throughout Australia for the leadership and commitment she has shown, promoting education within Aboriginal communities and ensuring that Aboriginal people have the opportunity to become qualified teachers and manage their own schools.
Her artwork, which can be found in churches, public spaces, galleries and private collections all over Australia and abroad and most famously the Stations of the Cross in the Catholic church in Daily River, Northern Territory, reflects the relationship between her Christian faith and Aboriginal culture.