CAMP Hill’s small Catholic community have opened their arms to the family of Hannah Clarke, the 31-year-old mother murdered along with her three children.
Fr Christopher Obi, parish priest of St Thomas the Apostle Church, Camp Hill, spent his day off last Monday attempting to contact Suzanne and Lloyd Clarke, the grieving parents who lost their daughter on Wednesday, February 19 when her estranged husband set her car alight with her three children inside.
“We are seeing if we can get to know the family and what we can do personally to help them,” Fr Obi told The Catholic Leader.
Ms Clarke was driving her three children Aaliyah, Laianah, and Trey to school when the attack happened.
The three children, aged six, four, and three, died in the fire, while tradesmen pulled Ms Clarke alive from the car.
She later died that night at the Royal Brisbane Hospital, succumbing to burns to more than 90 per cent of her body.
Mr Baxter was found dead at the scene with self-inflicted stab wounds.
The tragedy transpired in broad daylight on a street two kilometres from St Thomas the Apostle Church.
Fr Obi was in Redbank the day of the fire, but when he returned to the Camp Hill presbytery “I glued my eyes on the television”.
“My initial reaction was, it’s a sad thing that’s happened, and how did this happen,” Fr Obi said.
“It was also a mental moment for me to think about women and how they are caught up in all this.”
Fr Obi said the Readings for Mass on February 23, and in particular Matthew’s Gospel, “coincidentally” mentioned the response to physical violence.
“I tried to relate it to (the car fire) incident – this is what to do in terms of showing love …,” Fr Obi said.
“Definitely we have to give a call and help the person.
“Again, there are also people who are not able to speak for themselves.”
Fr Obi, originally from Nigeria, said the unthinkable deaths of Ms Clarke and her three children were not isolated incidents.
He knows women facing similar dangerous situations in Africa where “women are always victims of violence”.
“I’m coming from Africa, and I come with a lot of stories pertaining to that particular incident,” Fr Obi said.
Fr Obi said the entire parish felt the impact of the horrific murders, with parishioners offering prayers for women, like Ms Clarke, who were fleeing dangerous relationships.
Ms Clarke and her three children were also named in the parish’s Prayers of the Faithful last weekend.
“We stand in solidarity with domestic and family violence victims,” Fr Obi said.