City of Parramatta honours Oatlands victims

Bridget Sakr: "A girl mature beyond her years and comparing her suffering to that of the Virgin Mary’s".

Bridget Sakr: "A girl mature beyond her years and comparing her suffering to that of the Virgin Mary’s".


(See Translation in Arabic section)

Sydney: Thousands of people have congregated in Sydney’s west to attend the funeral of Veronique Sakr, who was killed in the Oatlands car crash last week alongside her three cousins: Antony, Angelina and Sienna Abdallah.

Mourners dressed in blue — Veronique’s favourite colour — solemnly filed through the doors of the Saint Sabina School chapel, where the 11 year-old was a student, to rousing renditions of Amazing Grace and Jerusalem played by the school band.

Friends, family, fellow students, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Jenny Morrison were among the attendees, who filled the chapel beyond capacity well before the funeral began.

 Veronique’s mother, Bridget Sakr, dressed in a deep blue dress, was bravely supported by her 13-year-old son Michael who had, after hearing of his sister’s death, asked his parents “How do I live my life without her?”

The pair walked into the overflowing church followed by Veronique’s father Bob Sakr and her relatives Daniel and Leila Abdallah, who had buried three of their children less than 24 hours before.

A member of the Australian Lebanese-Catholic community, Veronique’s funeral was conducted in accordance with the rites of the Maronite church and attendance of Bishop Antoine Charbel Tarabay. The service was led by Monsignor Shora Maree, who oversaw the Abdallah children’s funeral on Monday.

Bridget Sakr addressed the congregation with a shaking voice, describing her love for a girl mature beyond her years and comparing her suffering to that of the Virgin Mary’s.

“On the day she went to heaven, she said to me: ‘Mummy, you know I love talking to older people rather than younger people’,” said Ms Sakr.

“She had the mind and emotional intelligence of a 25-year-old … I would ask her opinion on so many things. She always had one, and it would always make sense. At a young age she carried such wisdom and could read between the lines about anything and everything.”

“I always wondered why Veronique had no attachment to anything material — it now makes sense to me why this is the case.

 “She never belonged to this world, she belonged to the spiritual world. Therefore earthly possessions meant nothing to her.”

In the homily, Monsignor Shora Maree said Veronique was a “bright spark” and a young, devout girl who faithfully prayed Hail Marys in Arabic and was a kind-hearted sister to brother Michael.

“Michael, she was bossy to you as a brother — what’s she going to be like to Jesus up there?” Monsignor Maree said.

“She’s going to say Lord, look after my brother. Give him all the blessings he needs.”

Veronique was also described as an excellent student, whose “smile and joy” helped teachers through difficult days.

Earlier in the day, a former teacher described Veronique’s smile as one “that lights up a room”.

“No matter how tough the day was, how tired we were, she would always give a wave, a smile, a laugh, and make my life better for it,” said the teacher.

A dove and a giant rosary constructed from blue and white balloons were released to the sky, symbolising the young girl’s ascent into heaven, to raucous applause.


City of Parramatta honours Oatlands victims

City of Parramatta Council is proposing to install a memorial to commemorate the four children who tragically lost their lives in a motor vehicle accident at Oatlands on 1 February.

At last night’s Meeting, Council offered its sympathies to the family and friends of siblings Antony, Angelina, and Sienna Abdallah, and their cousin Veronique Sakr, and resolved to consult with the families on an appropriate memorial.

“It was a horrific tragedy that shocked and saddened us all. Our hearts break at the terrible loss of young, innocent lives,” City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Bob Dwyer said.

“The outpouring of support and tributes has been incredible. It reflects the profound impact that this tragedy has had, not only on the tight-knit Oatlands community but right across Australia. We would like to honour the lives of these beautiful children with a dedicated memorial.”

Following feedback from the community since the accident, Council will also introduce traffic-calming measures in the area.

These include the installation of a pedestrian guardrail along the section of Bettington Road where the incident occurred, and a roundabout at the intersection of York and Bettington Roads.

“While police have not identified the road condition to be a factor in this incident, Council has listened to the local community,” Cr Dwyer said.

“These measures have been identified by Council as appropriate ways to help reinforce the area’s 50km/h speed limit and ease community concerns about pedestrian safety along Bettington Road.”

Council will consult the community about the installation of a roundabout, which will be subject to approval through the Parramatta Traffic Committee.


Copyright 2007