Berkeley victims Niccolai Schuster and Olivia Burke laid to rest in Dublin
There were huge crowds at two different services in the capital today as family and friends paid their final respects to two of the Irish students who lost their lives in the Berkeley balcony tragedy.
This morning, in the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, the same church that yesterday saw the final goodbye to another victim, Eimear Walsh, mourners gathered to say farewell to Olivia Burke.
Olivia, whose cousin Ashling Donohoe also died in the tragedy last week, was mourned by parents Paula and Paul and her brother Gavin.
Fr Frank Herron spoke of the impact of the tragedy on the parish of Foxrock.
Last Tuesday evening at about 9 o’clock, the bells of our church tolled out the sad news of the tragic death of Olivia and Eimear, two of our young parishioners as well as their 4 friends,” he said.
“We threw open the doors of our church and because of the constant stream of people, they have not closed before midnight since then. The thought of 6 young people dying so far away in such circumstances and the thought of their parents and siblings having to make the long journey to bring them back home has pained us all,” he continued.
“This week our community of Foxrock has reached out to each other probably as never before. In this building we looked for God and for each other.”
"Our community has been dealing with the absence of God - where was he when all this happened - and the presence of God all week. And we have experienced both.
"God is like a loving parent. You watch your children grow and mature and eventually move away from you. You do not love them any less in their absence.
"If anything you love them more and think about them every day. And you hope they think about you. It is the same with God. He loves us and we are constantly in his mind and heart even if we move away.
"It doesn’t matter. His love can’t change.
"But he is not a builder, an architect or an engineer.
"He leaves all that to us. He was there that night at the 21st birthday party. He was there as the young people gathered and as they enjoyed themselves. And he was there as the accident happened… falling with them.
"And he was there as some stepped from this world into eternity to embrace them and to take them back to where they came from; to where we all came from - back to the very heart of God."
Just across the city, at the Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar, a large crowd gathered to pay their respects to Niccolai Schuster.
A guard of honour from St Mary's RFC was present for the arrival of the funeral cortege to the church while many other mourners wore Bayern Munich shirts, a team that Niccolai was a huge fan of.
Chief mourners were his father John and mother Grazieela, as well as his younger brother Alexei.