SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Irish officials and religious leaders on Sunday thanked San Francisco Bay Area Catholics and others for the support and care given to the families of six young people killed when a balcony collapsed in Berkeley last week.
Ireland's Minister of State for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan said the support shown to the Irish families while they were in the Bay Area helped them cope with their loss.
"Thank you sincerely on behalf of the Irish people and the Irish government," Deenihan said during a Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral Church Sunday.
Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh, all 21-year-olds from Ireland and Ashley Donohoe, 22, of Rohnert Park, California, were killed Tuesday when the balcony they were standing on snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. Thirteen people were tossed 50 feet to the street below. The other seven remain hospitalized.
Father Brendan McBride of the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center in San Francisco said during the homily that four of the bodies have returned to Ireland and that another will be taken home on Monday. Donohoe was buried Saturday in Sonoma County, where she was from, after a memorial celebrating her life and that of her cousin and best friend, Olivia Burke.
McBride urged those present Sunday to keep praying for the families of those who died and the seven who remain hospitalized.
"It's in this community of friendship that we share our burden," McBride said. "Continue to pray for them and support them."