Acclaimed Catholic musician John Burland has penned a moving song inspired by conversations with grieving couple Leila and Danny Abdallah, whose three children and cousin were tragically killed by a drunk and drugged driver at Oatlands.
I Forgive You has been released ahead of i4give Day (Monday 1 February), an annual forgiveness day being launched by the family and cousin Bridget Sakr.
The two families have taken the extraordinary step of forgiving the man behind the wheel as an important step in their grieving process and want i4give Day to be held every year on the anniversary of the deaths in memory of the children.
“As we free our hearts and open our minds, so we can heal and start again,” Mr Burland reflected.
Mr Burland, who is Sydney Catholic Schools’ Education Officer: Archdiocesan Liturgical Music, said he was asked to write I Forgive You by Mission & Identity Director, Anthony Cleary, and Robert Haddad, SCS’ Manager, Network Catholic Identity.
“This was seen as a unique way Sydney Catholic Schools could support and contribute to i4give Day,” Mr Burland said.
The lyrics of I Forgive You are heavily based on Scripture: Ephesians 4:32; Matt 18:21-22; Matt 6:14-15; and Psalm 130:4.
“As a songwriter you always also draw on your own experiences and certainly this song is no exception,” Mr Burland said.
“Like many others I have found that forgiving can be very challenging particularly when you are deeply hurt and saddened by others.
“But when we forgive we ‘free our hearts’ and show the love of God to others as we are called to do.
“We are sharing these song resources with Sydney Catholic schools and, where appropriate, our team will incorporate the song into their work as part of prayer and personal reflection.”
He described i4give Day as a time to reflect on our own lives and interactions with others.
“Are we being witnesses of our Faith and showing compassion, love and forgiveness? As we free our hearts and open our minds, so we can heal and start again,” Mr Burland reflected.