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Veronique Sakr farewelled with love

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

Veronique Sakr was a vibrant, loving and witty child who was much more interested in people and life than material things, said her mother Bridget Sakr.

The Year 6 student at Santa Sabina College in Strathfield was farewelled in its chapel on 11 February.

Veronique, 11, was killed when a car ran into her on a footpath in Oakland on 1 February. Her cousins Sienna, 8, Angelina, 12, and Antony, 13, also died at the scene. Another cousin, Charbel Kassas, 11, remains in hospital with serious injuries.

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Her funeral was held a day after the joint funeral of the siblings at Our Lady of Lebanon Co-Cathedral in Harris Park.

Pallbearers carry Veronique Sakr’s coffin into the Santa Sabina College Chapel, 11 February. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Its chapel was filled to overflowing for the Maronite Catholic funeral liturgy and Mass with family, friends, and students representing the college and St Patrick’s College, Strathfield, where Veronique’s brother Michael, 13, is a student.

The two-hour hour Mass was live-streamed into both schools. Both college bands performed outside the chapel before the Mass, and afterwards, students formed a guard of honour from the church and along The Boulevard. The pink rose-covered white coffin entered and left the church to the singing of the Ave Maria.

In attendance was NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Jenny Morrison representing Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Brigadier General Milad Ishak, representing the Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces. Mass opened with prayers for “the passing of these children in perfection, especially Veronique”.

Ms Sakr said that she had often wondered why her daughter, who “oozed empathy” and loved her friends, sport, and dogs, had never been attached to any toys or gifts.

Two white doves were released following the funeral which lasted almost two hours. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“It now makes sense. She never belonged to this world and that’s why she didn’t cling to material things,” she said.

“Many times I have prayed and reflected on the sorrows of our Lord and thought of the fifth sorrow, the agony and pain of his Blessed Mother,” she said.

“My heart is now in agony, but it is a comfort to know that in so often reflecting on this sorrow of Our Lady, God has prepared me for today.”

In the homily, Monsignor Shora Maree said that Veronique’s hugs, joy-filled smile, cheeky personality and infectious laugh were signs of her love.

“We all would have prayed that she would have risen [like Jairus’ daughter in the Gospel] but God tells us that he has raised Veronique and led her to the banquet in heaven,” he said.

The rosary has been a powerful symbol of the families’ faith sustaining them through grief in recent days. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Her parents Bob and Brigid Sakr had raised her with deep faith and taught her to pray daily, “My little Jesus, I love you”.

After two terms learning Arabic what she remembered most was the Hail Mary, he said. At the funeral her father had led her down the aisle to the “greatest groom, Jesus Christ”.

“Trust that, believe in that,” he said.

Veronique would “boss” Jesus into looking after her parents, brother and extended family, and would be “godmother from heaven” for many, he said.

“Open your hearts to Jesus and all the love and prayers she is pouring down for you.”

To all the parents who watched the tragedy unfold from afar he said,  “Do not wait for this, live love now”.

“Bad decisions, substance abuse, misuse of technology, speed caused this,” he said. “God did not cause this.”

Michael Sakr, front left, and the other St Patrick’s College drummers lead the funeral procession, as his parents and other family members follow the hearse on foot. Giovanni Portelli

Prayers were offered for all four children and their loved ones. Mourners, many wearing Veronique’s favourite colour blue, were given small boxes bearing her photograph and white rosary beads.

Following the Mass, white doves and balloons in the form of a blue and white rosary were released, and the hearse was led by St Patrick’s drummers headed by Michael Sakr.

Thousands of people have visited the Bettington crash site to pray and leave flowers, teddies, prayers, candles and rosaries.

The tragedy has shocked the nation but has also shone a light on the extraordinary faith and resilience of its Maronite community.

Foundation launched

A charitable foundation has been established to honour the four children’s memories for the purpose of improving road safety programs and initiatives across the country.
Bank: Bank of Queensland
BSB: 124 185
ACC: 23027304

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