Parents’ response to tragedy ‘the very meaning of Easter’
It was an incredible act of forgiveness that on Sunday led Sydney couple Leila and Danny Abdallah to be praised by the Archbishop of Sydney for representing everything Easter is about.
While churches across NSW were empty due to the coronavirus lockdown, Mr and Mrs Abdallah joined a small, select service at St Mary's Cathedral in memory of their three children and niece, who were killed by an alleged drunk driver in February.
The couple's extraordinary decision to forgive the driver who is charged over the deaths of Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, Sienna, 9, and Veronique Sakr, 11, was on Sunday described by Archbishop Anthony Fisher as "supernatural''.
"This was no ordinary human response," Archbishop Fisher said, his words echoing around the near-empty cathedral. "It was a super human one, a supernatural one, an Easter one.
"Yet this isn't a family of super heroes or saints.
"These are ordinary people who by God's grace could do extraordinary things in the most terrible of circumstances and it's precisely for this sort of thing that we are saved."
The Abdallahs were joined by Veronique's parents Bob and Bridget Sakr, Veronique's brother Michael, and Bridget's partner Craig McKenzie.
The grace and stoicism they have shown since the tragedy was evident as they were the only worshippers allowed into the cathedral pews which, on any other Easter Sunday, would have been packed.
Archbishop Fisher revealed that Mr Abdallah and Antony had attended the cathedral on the morning of the accident.
"A boy and his dad came in to this cathedral to pray," he said during the televised Easter Sunday mass.
"The boy was Antony and (he and) his dad Danny prayed right here and went to the statue of Saint Anthony, the name saint of the boy. Little did they know that was the boy's last day on this earth."
The Abdallah siblings and Veronique were killed when they were struck by a ute, driven by allegedly drunk tradie Samuel William Davidson, which mounted the footpath at Oatlands, in Sydney's northwest, on February 1.
Police allege Davidson was three times the legal alcohol limit. He's been charged with four counts of manslaughter.
Originally published as Parents' response to tragedy 'the very meaning of Easter'