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Forgiveness opened my lips: Leila Abdallah

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Leila Abdallah talks during the St Catherine Labore Gymea Dinner on 18 November. Beside her are husband Danny, daughter Liana and the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Director of Public Affairs and Engagement, Monica Doumit. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Leila Abdallah says that forgiveness led God to open her lips, leading to a steady stream of speaking requests she now sees as part of her vocation in life.

The tragic death of three of Mrs Abdallah’s children to a drug- and alcohol-affected driver shocked the nation and made headlines around the world in 2020.

She co-founded i4give day with her husband Danny and was awarded 2021 mother of the year.

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She has since addressed political, business, religious and sporting leaders, and spoken at school, church and prison events about the power of forgiveness.

“I do get a lot of speaking events and I look at it as a calling from God. I don’t consider myself as a public speaker, this is something we have been called to do …”

Last June the Abdallahs took their message to the world meeting of families at the Vatican, where they received two standing ovations for their address on forgiveness as a way of holiness.

On one day alone she spoke at four events across Sydney and Canberra, speaking at three in person, one via zoom.

“I do get a lot of speaking events and I look at it as a calling from God. I don’t consider myself as a public speaker, this is something we have been called to do after what happened to us,” Mrs Abdallah said.

“At the beginning I couldn’t understand why people would keep asking me to explain why I forgave. I forgave because I am a Christian.

2021 Mother of the Year Leila Abdallah, pictured at a Sydney Catholic business network lunch ealier this month, sees her steady stream of speaking requests as part of her vocation in life. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
2021 Mother of the Year Leila Abdallah, pictured at a Sydney Catholic business network lunch ealier this month, sees her steady stream of speaking requests as part of her vocation in life. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“But people gravitate to our message because we are really living it and I also didn’t realise the power of forgiveness until I actually had to live it.

“Before the accident, if we had to speak at an event Danny would do the talking and I would stand beside him and smile.

“I’m naturally shy and I wasn’t confident to say anything because English is my second language and I have an accent. But as the Bible says, God chooses the weak.

“When I forgave the driver, God opened my lips. When I speak I don’t rely on my own knowledge, I just rely on God to speak through me and I speak from the heart.

“Forgiveness is the core message of our Christianity. It is what God wants of us during Lent.”

“And when you have experienced such immense grief and pain you have nothing to fear any more. What’s the worst that’s going to happen?”

Mrs Abdallah most recently addressed a Sydney archdiocesan business network gathering on 10 March and recounted the day the couple’s children Antony, Angelina, Sienna and their niece Veronique Sakr were run down on a footpath in Oatlands.

“It was our faith and the Holy Spirit that led me to forgiveness. Forgiveness is the core message of our Christianity. It is what God wants of us during Lent, more than anything else. He wants us to be loving, kind, compassionate and forgiving,” she told the guests.

“We can’t control what happened to us but we can choose how to respond.”

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