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Thousands gather to pray after tragedy

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Flowers placed at the memorial for the four children at Oatlands in northwest Sydney. PHOTO: AAP

*UPDATE: The funeral for Anthony, Angelina and Sienna Abdallah will be held on Monday, 10 February at Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral in Harris Park at 10.30am.

Veronique Sakr’s funeral will be held on Tuesday, 11 February at Santa Sabina College Chapel in Strathfield at 11am.

Sydney’s Catholic and Maronite communities have united in an outpouring of grief and prayer for the families devastated by the loss of four children in a tragic accident on 1 February.

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Thousands of people gathered to pray at parishes and schools across the city after Anthony, 13, Angelina, 12, and Sienna Abdallah, 8, together with their cousin Veronique Sakr, 11, were hit by a car while walking along a footpath in Oatlands near North Parramatta.

One other child of the Abdallah family and two from the Kassas family, who are also related, were injured.

“Our Maronite community and I are heartbroken and share the pain of the Abdallah and Sakr families, both well-known and active members of their parishes,” said Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay. “The tragic death of their four children is heartbreaking.

“Our community has come together to support the families and I saw the large outpouring of love and prayers in all our parishes, at the accident site, and at the hospital, when I visited the injured children.

“We entrust the Abdallah and Sakr families to the maternal care of our Holy Mother and pray for the recovery of the children of the Kassas family.

“We are people of hope and the Resurrection so we take comfort in knowing that Anthony, Angelina, Sienna and Veronique now pray for their families and all of us from their heavenly dwellings of light.”

Fr Tony Sarkis, parish priest at Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral in Harris Park, where two of the families are active members of the parish, said the “horrific accident has tragically affected the lives of all three families and the entire Maronite community”.

“We have been supporting the family since we heard the tragic news … through our prayers and Masses firstly and through our ongoing support by their side,” he said.

“This heartbreaking event has touched the hearts of all the community and we ask everyone to continue to pray for the three families entrusting them to the glory of the Resurrection and eternal life.”

Our Lady of Lebanon was full on the evening of 2 February with shocked and grieving parishioners praying the Rosary for the victims and their heartbroken families.

A woman places flowers at a memorial for the children at the scene of the 1 February accident. PHOTO: AAP

At the same time, St Michael’s church at Belfield was full to overflowing with people praying a Rosary dedicated the Abdallah and Sakr familes alongside the relics of saints Thèrése of Lisieux and her parents Louis and Zélie Martin.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said that the Catholic community was united in prayer for the Abdallah and Sakr families following the “tragic deaths”.

“We ask that through the intercession of Saints Thèrése, Louis and Zélie that Our Lord may reach out to them in their distress at the loss of their children,” he said. “Saints Thèrése, Louis and Zélie, pray for us.”

The group of children was allegedly struck by a car which mounted a footpath on Bettington Road.

Leila Abdallah spoke to reporters at the scene of the accident about her and her family’s faith, saying she felt that she was “walking the Stations of the Cross”.

The Abdallah children attended the Anglican schools Tara and The Kings School in North Parramatta, while Veronique Sakr was a student at Santa Sabina College in Strathfield.

Santa Sabina College principal Paulina Skerman posted a prayer for the Year 6 student on social media and the school community gathered to pray for her and her family on 3 February.

Related article:

Something astonishing is happening in Oatlands tragedy
The “fiery” Maronites: people of faith and generosity

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