by Sarah Mac Donald
LONDONERRY, Northern Ireland (CNS) — Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry told hundreds of mourners at the funeral of an Irish missionary nun that “a life given in loving sacrifice is never wasted.”
Family, relatives and friends of Sister Clare Crockett gathered in St. Columba’s Church Long Tower May 2 to remember the 33-year-old sister killed in Ecuador during an April 17 earthquake.
Sister Clare and five postulants of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother died when a stairwell collapsed as they were attempting to escape their school building in Playa Prieta, Ecuador. They were among more than 500 people killed in the quake.
At the end of the Mass, Bishop McKeown acknowledged that, for Sister Clare’s family, there were questions as to “why on earth a young, generous woman should be plucked from our midst. Couldn’t she have done so much in the aftermath of the earthquake?”
He told the congregation that her ministry did not die with her, but her witness had instead posed questions for many of her contemporaries about faith, their idols and what makes a beautiful person, a reference to the outpouring of grief for the nun on social media.
In his homily, Father Eamon Graham said the teenager who wanted to be an actress had “asked herself what could she do to make the world a better place and how could she serve God through the most vulnerable.”
“She clearly did this in an exemplary manner as a religious sister nourished by prayer and especially through the Eucharist,” he said.
Bishop McKeown described Sister Clare’s choice to join religious life as countercultural and he said she had died doing what she believed was beautiful.
This contrasted with today’s culture where “realism, cynicism and despair are in vogue. We have been sucked in by a cynicism which confuses despair with realism,” he said.
Speaking to Catholic News Service ahead of the funeral, Bishop McKeown said as many as seven young Irish women had joined the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother in recent years and two Irish men had joined the priesthood in the same order. This has surprised many in Ireland, where vocations are in freefall.
Speaking of Sister Clare’s death, he said, “I am quite confident that this actually will be one of those stories that will encourage people.”