A memorial erected on the grounds of Santa Sabina College in Strathfield for former student Veronique Sakr will be a place of peace, reflection and Christian hope, says her mother Bridget Sakr.
The day before Veronique’s 12th birthday on 16 December her memorial was erected alongside the college chapel, a large light blue cross within a white V on top of a sandstone column bearing a plaque with her image. Sandstone benches will also be installed, so that her friends, other students and staff will have a place to remember and connect with God and with Veronique, who died last February along with her cousins Antony, Angelina, and Sienna Abdallah when a drunk driver mounted a footpath where they were walking in Oatlands in Sydney’s west.
Ms Sakr told The Catholic Weekly that Veronique herself had helped her to find an architect to design the memorial and expressed her gratitude to college principal Paulina Skerman and the “amazing community” at Santa Sabina for their support.
The memorial was designed by Jean-Claude Saliba of Platform Five Design with a team of experts who contributed their time and resources “from the heart”, Ms Sakr said.
“It’s in a beautiful location and it represents the living spirit of Veronique that will continue at the school, as well as the tremendous human spirit of Santa Sabina, that they are honouring Veronique and letting the children know that she was part of the school, she continues to be part of it and she’s never forgotten.
“It also represents the beauty of our faith that we don’t die, but through Christ we actually have eternal life.”
Blessing the memorial last Friday in the presence of Veronique’s friends and classmates, principal Paulina Skerman, members of the Sakr and Abdallah families, and other supporters, Fr Maroun Elkazzi said it was a “beautiful gift”.
“Veronique touched each of us in a very special way and she continues to do the same from heaven,” Fr Elkazzi said. “The cross is a symbol that Christ suffered and died but it’s also a symbol of his victory over death.
“The V is for Veronique but also for victory, that with Jesus we can never lose, he’s going to look after us, he’s always going to bless us and we’re always going to be with him one day in heaven.”
Abdallah and Sakr families to launch i4give day
The families will launch a special day to promote forgiveness with support from the NSW Government with a memorial on 31 January.
“Our four children are now our four saints and this day is for them,” said Danny and Leila Abdallah in a statement on social media. “Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others. The more you practice the better you become at it and it allows you live peacefully and to heal.”
Ms Sakr said forgiveness is “the the foundation of our faith”. “Forgiveness gives you that ability to move forward and move on with love, and showing your children on earth the love that Christ had because he forgave,” she said.
NSW mental health minister Bronnie Taylor told media the impact of the Oatlands tragedy was profound and that for some people in similar circumstances, forgiveness may play a healing role as part of the grieving process.
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