Quake nun Sr Clare Crockett died 'doing what she believed was beautiful'
Sister Clare Crockett, the nun killed in the earthquake that devastated Playa Prieta in Ecuador, "died doing what she believed was beautiful" the congregation gathered at the Long Tower Church in Londonderry for her Requiem Mass was told.
A large wreath of white flowers lay on top of the coffin of the 33-year-old as it was lifted onto the shoulders of her family, including her sisters Shauna and Megan.
Dozens of other floral tributes lined the inside of the hearse that brought Sister Clare's remains the short distance from her family home in Derry's Brandywell.
Students from St Celia's College where Sr Clare had been a pupil braved the wind to provide a guard or honour outside the church.
Among the many relatives and friends gathered were three members of her religious order the Home of the Mother, which she joined so she could dedicate her life to God.
Sr Karen, Sr Kelly and Sr Rachel accompanied Sr Clare from Madrid during repatriation from Ecuador to the home of her parents, Gerard and Margaret.
Chief celebrant at the service was Fr Eamon Graham, who was joined on the altar by Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown; Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin in Co Sligo, and retired Bishop of Derry Edward Daly, as well as nine other priests and Rev David Latimer from First Derry Presbyterian Church.
In his homily Fr Graham recollected that on the day the Catholic Church prayed for vocations, an earthquake hit Ecuador that would be felt deeply by the Crockett family in Derry and would leave many people asking questions of God.
He said: "Little did we realise the sadness that would descend on the Crockett family and this community. That sadness has touched people from near and far, peoples of all faiths and of none.
"You are having to deal with an unimaginable cross. In many ways these weeks and these awful events have given us an insight into Clare's life and motivation.
"We have all been inspired by her faith and witness."
Bishop McKeown paid his own tribute to Sr Clare and the courage of her family over the past two weeks. He said: "From the cries of anguish and relief last Friday night as Sister Clare's coffin came round the final corner after her long journey home, I know that there are many people - both here and in Ecuador - who hunger for peace in the face of this earthquake and the deaths it caused.
"Sister Clare's family here in Derry and her religious family wonder 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? But she had felt called to a religious community that has three aims with the Church: the defence of the Eucharist, the defence of the honour of Our Mother, and the conquest of the youth for Jesus Christ.
"She was crazy enough to believe that this was the best possible way to live her life and she died doing what she believed was beautiful, and, like Jesus, she died young."
He added: "Sister Clare had seen heroism and idealism alongside loss and betrayal in the city where she grew up.
"What held - and still holds - communities together in terrible times were the strong men and women and the strong community ties that could not be crushed by violence, loss and a seemingly hopeless future.
"We have seen that solidarity over the last two weeks as Clare's family was supported during the long wait and the weekend wake. Stories were told and retold and tears were mingled with laughter.
"In their distress they knew that the faith that Sister Clare has espoused so radically was not a flight from anything but an embracing of the pain of the world and loving it like Jesus did on the cross."
To read Fr Graham's full homily go to www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk