In the months since the Rev. Robert DeMartinis officiated at the wedding of Amy and Axel Steenberg, he noticed that a sign they made for the service remained at the church.
The pastor held up the handpainted sign during his emotional homily Saturday at the funeral for the couple, her three sisters and his brother, all victims of a tragic limousine crash that claimed 20 lives last week.
“A picture of a camera with a red cross through it,” he said. “It said, ‘Please no pictures, we suggest that you live in the moment.’
“They are asking you and me to do that today,” he continued. “As difficult as it may be, we must live in the present moment because that’s what they would want us to do. We will always hurt, tears will always come, but we must live right now in the present moment.”
More than 650 mourners packed the pews of St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church in Amsterdam, N.Y., where the four sisters grew up.
“The question that is in the heart of so many is, ‘Why?’” DeMartinis admitted. “Why, one week ago, this tragedy had to occur? Why did these 20 individuals have to be taken from us so quickly and so unexpectedly? We want to know why.”
He referred to a story about Mother Teresa, in which she said she never asks why, because there may never be an answer. Instead, she would ask, “Who?”
“Who do we put our faith in? Who do we put our trust in?” Her answer was God.
“And that is what all my brothers and sisters are doing here this afternoon,” DeMartinis said.
Toward the end of the Mass, a member of each family was asked to sign a book of remembrance, and gestured to the photos of each victim. “I encourage to you to continue to look at these photos,” DeMartinis said. “As long as you and I have memory and are still able to tell their stories, even if it’s for a few brief minutes, we bring our beloved back again.”
Although eight urns, accompanied by photos of the victims, were symbolically placed on the communion rail, three of the sisters actually share an urn with their husbands, said Peter Rose, funeral director at Betz Rossi, Bellinger and Stewart.
In addition to Amy Steenberg, 30, and her husband, Axel, the ashes of her sister, Mary King, 33, and her husband Robert Dyson, 34, were combined, as were those of Abigail King, 34, and her husband, Adam Jackson, 34.
A fourth sister, Allison, 31, and Rich Steenberg, 34, who served as his brother’s best man at the couple’s wedding, were also mourned in the mass.
The family members were among 17 passengers killed Oct. 6 when their stretch limousine crashed in Schoharie on the way to a 30th birthday celebration for Amy. The vehicle’s driver and two pedestrians also died.
“What good can come from this tragedy?” DeMartinis said at the end of his homily. “The good that comes from this is that thousands and thousands from the entire world have gotten together to know life is short, life is precious. There is no time for hatred, bickering, or jealously or anything, there is only time for loving, for hugging and for forgiving.”
Rose said the family, which includes one surviving sister and two brothers, along with their parents, has not made public the name of the cemetery where they will be interred. Mary King, 33, and Dyson are also survived by a young son, Isaac. Abigail King, 35, and Jackson left two daughters.
The crash — for which the limo company operator has been charged with criminally negligent homicide — was the nation’s worst traffic accident in nearly a decade. Authorities continue to investigate, but have said the vehicle never should have been on the road, having failed two state inspections in six months, and the driver wasn’t properly licensed.
Funerals were also held Saturday for two other crash victims, Matthew Coons, 27, in Fonda, N.Y., and Patrick Cushing, 31, in Amsterdam.
The funeral for the driver, Scott Lisinicchia, was held Saturday in Saratoga Springs. A private service was held Friday for Savannah Bursese, 24, on Friday.
Services are planned on Monday for Rachael Cavosie, 30, in Waterford, Amanda Halse, 26, in Queensbury. Erin McGowan, 34, and her husband, Shane McGowan, 30, in Amsterdam, and Amanda Rivenburg, 29, in Colonie. A memorial service for Michael Ukaj, 34, is set for Wednesday.
Memorials for one of the pedestrians, Brian Hough, 46, of Moravia, are planned for Wednesday in Moravia and Oct. 20 in Carlisle, Pa. Plans for the service for his father-in-law, James Schnurr, 70, of Kerhonkson, are not yet public.
Source : https://nypost.com/2018/10/13/sisters-killed-in-limo-crash-will-be-laid-to-rest-along-with-their-husbands/1010