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Nun killed in Ecuador quake hailed at funeral service

Published 02/05/2016

The coffin of Sister Clare Crockett, who was killed in an earthquake in Ecuador, is carried from Long Tower Church in Londonderry following her funeral

A young Irish nun killed in the earthquake in Ecuador was an inspirational example of womanhood, mourners at her funeral service have been told.

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, 33, died when a stairwell collapsed in the school where she was working in Playa Prieta earlier this month.

Hundreds of people packed into St Columba's Church close to her family home in the Brandywell area of Londonderry for Requiem Mass.

Fr Eamon Graham, who led the service, said: "She was a striking example of Derry womanhood.

"Clare asked herself what she could do to make the world a better place and how she could serve God and help the most vulnerable.

"And to do that she went to the far end of the earth and she took her goodness with her."

More than 480 people were killed and 4,000 others injured in the powerful quake, which had a magnitude of 7.8 - the strongest to hit the country since 1979.

The US Geological Survey said the shallow quake which struck on April 17 was centred 16 miles (26km) from Muisne in a sparsely populated area of fishing ports popular with tourists.

Sister Clare, a nun in the Home of the Mother order, had been teaching children in a rural part of the country, including guitar lessons.

She died alongside a number of local girls in the school.

Fr Graham told the congregation that many who met the self-confessed former party girl and budding actress had been inspired to change direction.

He added: "She continued to do this in her death.

"She enjoyed life and she loved life.

"She always said she wanted to be famous - but she gave all that up. But in a way she has achieved fame and that will help her good work continue."

As her coffin, adorned with floral bouquets, was carried into the church, a guard of honour was provided by girls from St Cecilia's College where Sister Clare had received their first-ever award for kindness.

A large number of Catholic clergy including Bishops Edward Daly and Donal McKeown as well as the high profile Presbyterian minister and former Army chaplain Reverend David Latimer were among those who took part in the ceremony.

Some members of Sister Clare's order were also in attendance as were Stormont politicians including Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and SDLP leader Colm Eastwood, both Derry natives.

A guitar was among the gifts offered during the service.

Outside the church Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown said Sister Clare's family had drawn comfort by the level of support.

He said: "I didn't know her but, her smiling face, her guitar, is the way that she will be remembered.

"I understand she was found with the guitar cord round her neck, and in many ways that's the image most of us have seen of her over the past few weeks.

"I am sure she will be remembered as somebody who was full of energy and full of life and who wanted to give the best that she had for people who were not as well off or as fortunate as she was."

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