Even the car parking attendants in high vis jackets were wiping away tears as they tried to direct those coming to pay their respects to Antony, 13, Angelina, 12, and Sienna, 9, who were killed while walking together to get ice cream in Oatlands.
They were knocked down and killed the weekend before last by the car driven by a 29-year-old alleged drink driver who was three times over the limit when police found him.
Judging by the sea of people that swelled out onto the streets outside the Our Lady of Lebanon church in Harris Park this morning, it was clear the manner of their passing had left many in shock.
There were people of all backgrounds and ages, closing their eyes to pray and looking on in sadness as drummers from the Kings School, which Antony attended, led a procession into the church.
Links of pink and blue balloons were lofted in the air and attendees held white roses and donned pins with photos of the siblings — as white hearses arrived at the church.
It had been a rough weekend of weather for Sydney, but as one of the priests leading the ceremony said it had seemed to “miraculously” clear up for the occasion.
Hundreds of men and women linked arms to form a guard of honour as the hearses were carried while the harmonies of choral music filled the air.
Dozens of pupils from Tara Anglican School for Girls and The King’s School, dressed in uniform, watched on with sadness as they said goodbye to their friends Sienna and Angelina. It was all too much for one pupil who was escorted away in floods of tears by a staff member.
Music continued with chanting and singing, until Monsignor Shora Maree, a priest who led the service, spoke of the Abdallah’s commitment to the church.
He told the crowd they it was understandable for them to have questions about how this all happened.
“It’s a huge question of why now,” he said. “Some may say why didn’t God stop this, it’s an understandable question.
“God did not do this, God allows it because it’s going to bring his glory through.”
He also made a link between the crash site in Oatlands to where Jesus died, saying “like the hill at Oatlands, we’re not going to forget that hill”.
In the religious Maronite ceremony Monsignor Maree said the children were deeply connected to their faith.
He said that not long before Antony died he posted messages championing his faith on Instagram and told his dad they should pray for Kobe Bryant on the way to a basketball game.
He said Sienna wanted to help a charity called Team Jesus feed the homeless in Blacktown for her eighth birthday instead of celebrating with cake.
And, he said Angelia was loved by a her teachers in school who said she cared for everyone.
Monsignor Maree said the siblings’ mother Leila had “shocked the world” with her words of forgiveness for alleged drink driver who took their lives.
“Danny and Leila, we have seen in you the most inspirational example and testimony that is true of the power of God’s love,” he said.
“Leila, you said the words of forgiveness that shocked the world, it shocked the world.
“That doesn’t come from something human, it comes from the divine.
“What an inspiration for all of us. We’ve seen the renewal of faith for many.”
Leila then joined the stage and led a prayer, saying her three children were now in heaven.
“Heavenly father, we thank you for your unconditional love,” she said.
“They are rejoicing with you today as you use this day of celebration to ignite prayer in the hearts of your kingdom throughout all over the world. We know they are rejoicing in heaven with you today.”
After communion, hundreds again lined up in a procession as a group of drummers led the three siblings’ coffins away.
Bright balloons and doves were released into the sky as family members holding large images of the children jumped up and down as they danced and others clapped to the drum beat.
The tragedy has tugged at the heartstrings of thousands of Sydneysiders who have been visiting the crash site in Oatlands ever since.
Community leaders, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Jenny Morrison – wife of Prime Minister Scott Morrison – turned up to the funeral today to pay their respect.
The three children died alongside their cousin Veronique Sakr who will be farewelled tomorrow morning at the Santa Sabina college chapel in Strathfield.
Samuel William Davidson, 29, was allegedly three times the legal blood alcohol limit when he drove into the children.
He’s been charged with 20 offences including four counts of manslaughter and is due to next appear in court in April.