By Leanne Favotto
As students and staff at St Mary’s primary in Concord paused to honour the dead at a Mass to mark All Souls Day on 2 November, they came away inspired by a local parent who has drawn heavily on her Catholic faith to help her overcome her own personal grief over the death of her child.
Bridget Sakr’s 11 year old daughter Veronique was killed along with her three cousins, Sienna, Angelina and Anthony Abdallah when a drunk and drugged driver drove into the children at Oatlands in Sydney’s north-west in February 2020.
At an All Souls Day Mass, Bridget spoke to members of the St Mary’s Concord community about how she has turned her own personal grief into setting up a support group to help others coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.
In 2020 Briget worked with Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria’s Grief Care to launch the “Heartfelt Connect” online support group. This platform provides bereavement support each Monday evening to an online community of individuals and families who have been affected by loss and grief.
To support Bridget’s vision of “Heartfelt”, St Mary’s students in the Pope Francis awards program for community service have been sewing blue hearts since 2021. The initiative was launched just before an extended COVID lockdown, to provide the students with active parish service when they were unable to engage with their community during C0VID. Students welcomed this opportunity and sewed blue hearts made from felt and stuffed them with polyester to fit into the palm of their hands. A simple prayer was attached, and they were bagged in cellophane for distribution.
The hearts were not sewn perfectly but with love. The term “broken heart” is often associated with death or loss. For some people it takes many years to heal and put the pieces of their heart back together after they experience loss. These soft hearts provide an opportunity for our students to be the face of Christ to our community and assist with the healing process.
“Heartfelt” packs have been distributed to members of our parish and school over the past two years to support individuals and families suffering from grief and loss. By sharing “heartfelt” hearts our students hope to share the strength of the Holy Spirit with others at St Mary’s Concord. This year they created an abundance of hearts which they were able to distribute to everyone attending our All Souls Day Mass. It also launched November as “Heartfelt “month within our community.
“THESE SOFT HEARTS PROVIDE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR STUDENTS TO BE THE FACE OF CHRIST TO OUR COMMUNITY AND ASSIST WITH THE HEALING PROCESS”
After meeting Bridget and sharing their hearts, many students commented on how happy they felt about being part of this meaningful initiative and the Pope Francis Program. The service they began in March has now become lived and meaningful to those in our community.
For further details of Bridget’s “Heartfelt Connect” visit: https://heartfelt.community/about-us/heartfelt-connect/