On one of the saddest days in Sydney’s recent history, the city’s Maronite community came together this morning at Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral, Harris Park, for the funerals of the three Abdallah children – Antony, 13, Angelina, 12 and Sienna, 8.
The three – along with their cousin, Veronique Sakr, 11 – were killed in a tragic car accident on Saturday 1 February.
However the national attention focused on the tragedy meant it was a safe bet that much of Sydney was watching the service live-streamed from the cathedral on social media.
Premier and PM’s wife attend
News of the tragedy shocked the nation. Distinguished guests in attendance included NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as well as Mrs Jenny Morrison, representing her husband Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Abdallah family members were received into a packed church with hundreds of mourners spilling onto the streets.
Maronite Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay OLM celebrated the Liturgy in front of the three white coffins of the children.
Monsignor pays tribute to children’s faith
In his homily Monsignor Shora Maree spoke of the faith and love of the three children as a testament to their upbringing.
“[Parents] Danny and Leila have always lead their children in faith: prayer in the home, rosary and reading the scriptures.”
Mons Maree spoke of their devotion to Jesus Christ in each of the lives of the children. Antony prayed regularly and offered prayers for his basketball hero Kobe Bryant upon news of his recent death.
Angelina exhibited immense love and care for her classmates.
Sienna, on her eighth birthday, instead of going to the movies, decided to go to the Team Jesus charity to share her birthday cake with the homeless.
“Let Antony, Angelina and Sienna teach us something … When we live by that love for the good of others we are going to experience Christ – no matter what the angry and painful thoughts are,” said Mons Maree.
He emphasised the healing power of Christ.
“Because of His Cross and Resurrection, Christ entered into every place of darkness and pain in the world. Like the hill at Oatlands, we are not going to forget that hill – like we will not forget Calvary [but] within 24 hours we already hear of amazing faith.”
Despite the grief, the last week has seen remarkable moments of faith emerge from the grieving Abdallah family and the wider Maronite community.
The last week has seen hundreds of Sydneysiders gather each day at the site of the tragedy to pray the rosary for the children and their families. Meanwhile, the fortitude and forgiveness exhibited by Danny and Leila Abdallah in their grief, Mons Maree said, has ‘stunned the world.’
“That doesn’t come from something human – it comes from something divine,” he told a packed cathedral congregation.
“What a blessing here – different denominations in our liturgy and worship of God. Look at what these children have done: they have brought us together. It is still very hard [but] God has taken them to the most wonderful celebration in heaven.”
The funeral service of Veronique Sakr will be held on Tuesday at the Santa Sabina college chapel in Strathfield.
By David Ryan. Reproduced with permission from The Catholic Weekly, the news publication of the Archdiocese of Sydney.