The GoFundMe page created by the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center of San Francisco on June 16 to assist the families affected by the tragic balcony collapse in Berkeley had hoped to raise $50,000, but generous donors from around the world have now donated more than four times that amount.
As of Tuesday afternoon $215,145 has been donated to the campaign to support and assist the immediate needs of the affected families and students.
The Irish Consulate in New York has also responded to the tragedy by scheduling a service of remembrance to be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in New York at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 25.
A book of condolences is also available to sign at the Aisling Irish Center on McLean Avenue in Yonkers to extend sympathies to those tragically killed in the Berkeley tragedy in the early morning of Tuesday, June 16. The book will be handed over at the remembrance service in St. Patrick's Cathedral on Thursday (and will be available to sign at the Cathedral prior to the Mass). Other books are also open at the New York Irish Center in Long Island City, and the Emerald Isle offices in Woodside and Woodlawn.
A community gathering will also be held after the Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at the Consulate General of Ireland, which is located at 345 Park Avenue on the 17th Floor.
After news of the tragedy broke, the tight knit Irish community of the Bay Area rallied around, with efforts coordinated by Father Brendan McBride, Father Aidan McAleenan, Celine Kennelly and their colleagues at the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center in the city, offering around the clock support and comfort to the bereaved.
The Consul General of Ireland coordinated a church service in Oakland on Friday evening in collaboration with McAleenan to remember four of the young college students who lost their lives in the balcony collapse.
The service was held at Saint Columba Catholic Church in Oakland and was presided over by Father McAleenan, who worked tirelessly to provide support to the families of the six students who died, as well as the seven who were injured in the accident.
Philip Grant, the consul general of Ireland in San Francisco, attended the vigil, as did Ireland’s Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan.
By around 9 p.m. the caskets were reportedly closed and family members began to leave the church. “The four caskets just left the church,” Father McAleenan posted to his Facebook page on Friday evening.
“I have never experienced such incredible emotion, and at the same time compassion. Our parish put its super best foot forward. Hospitality and gospel love and then some! Thank you for all the prayers love and concern. Keep the families of those gone to heaven in your prayers. Also remember all those who need healing on every level!”
The five Irish citizens, all age 21, were identified as Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh. The sixth fatal victim was Ashley Donohoe, 22, of Rohnert Park.
To donate to the Irish J1 Berkeley Tragedy Fund, visit www.gofundme.com/j1tragedyfund.