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Mothers say faith has kept them going

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The bereaved Abdallah and Sakr parents followed Veronique Sakr’s hearse on foot as it left the chapel after her funeral. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Five months from shocking tragedy an extraordinary witness to faith

A mother who lost three of her young children in a car crash in Sydney earlier this year has urged people to focus on their soul and build authentic faith.

Leila Abdallah says it is her firm belief in God and heaven that has got her through the past six months. Her relative Bridget Sakr likewise told The Catholic Weekly that uniting her suffering with Christ’s gives her hope.

The two grieving mothers say that the prayers of thousands of people around the world were granted in a miraculous healing for the 11-year-old survivor Charbel Kassas.

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“Death is a reality that no one can escape, so focus more on your soul and build your faith because that is the only thing you will have left,” Mrs Abdallah said this week.

Antony, Angelina and Sienna Abdallah were killed with their cousin Veronique Sakr in the accident at Oatlands in February. Charbel, another cousin, left Westmead Children’s Hospital in April after 80 days, defying doctors’ predictions of a much slower recovery.

Mourners bear framed photos of the Abdallah children at Our Lady of Lebanon church in February. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“It was through the power of prayer that Charbel woke up from his coma and prayer has definitely carried Danny and me through this tough time,” Mrs Abdallah said.

The three families told their story in a Channel 7 news special, ‘In the Blink of an Eye’ which aired last Tuesday night. Bridget Sakr said the documentary was to honour “four beautiful children raised in Christian faith”.

“I have united my suffering with the passion of Christ,” she said. “Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead, and entered into heaven to give us eternal life.

“That is how I know our children are in heaven with the Lord. This tragedy has reinforced for me that life on earth is finite, but life in heaven is eternal, death is no longer a stranger.

“This gives me much courage and strength to continue to carry my cross.”

Mrs Abdallah said she now has a better understanding of personal holiness. “You don’t need to a priest, you can be holy within your family, like Mother Teresa said, if you want to change the world love your family and then God will use you,” she said.

“I had a pastor tell me that a photo of me kneeling down [at the Bettington Road site] in silence has preached what pastors and priests could not preach.

“True faith shows itself in silence and actions, in loving each other and staying humble.”

“True faith shows itself in silence and actions, in loving each other and staying humble.”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP was among those paying tribute to the three families in the TV documentary.

The Abdallah and Sakr families joined the archbishop for this year’s Easter Sunday Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, which was where Mr Abdallah had spent time praying with his son Antony just hours before he died.

“Like so many Sydneysiders, I have been inspired over recent months by the remarkable courage, strength and dignity shown by the Abdallah and Sakr families,” said Archbishop Fisher.

“They are inspirational ambassadors of Jesus Christ, showing us all the power of God’s grace to help us do extraordinary things in the most terrible of circumstances.”

Related articles:

Thousands gather to pray after tragedy
Liturgy sees Sydney unite behind grieving Abdallah family
Veronique Sakr farewelled with love
Something astonishing is happening in Oatlands tragedy

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