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Sister Clare Crockett was an 'inspirational example of womanhood' mourners at funeral of Ecuador earthquake tragedy nun hear

By Joanne Fleming

Published 02/05/2016

The funeral of Sister Clare Theresa Crockett at St Columbas Church, Long Tower in Derry. The 33 years old nun from the Mother Order died in who died in Playa Prieta when a school collapsed when Ecuador suffered from an earthquake on the 16th of April. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 02.05.16
The funeral of Sister Clare Theresa Crockett at St Columbas Church, Long Tower in Derry. The 33 years old nun from the Mother Order died in who died in Playa Prieta when a school collapsed when Ecuador suffered from an earthquake on the 16th of April. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 02.05.16
The funeral of Sister Clare Theresa Crockett at St Columbas Church, Long Tower in Derry. The 33 years old nun from the Mother Order died in who died in Playa Prieta when a school collapsed when Ecuador suffered from an earthquake on the 16th of April. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 02.05.16
The funeral of Sister Clare Theresa Crockett at St Columbas Church, Long Tower in Derry. The 33 years old nun from the Mother Order died in who died in Playa Prieta when a school collapsed when Ecuador suffered from an earthquake on the 16th of April. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 02.05.16
The coffin of Sister Clare Crockett, who was killed in an earthquake in Ecuador, is carried into Long Tower Church in Londonderry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday May 2, 2016. See PA story ULSTER Nun. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The coffin of Sister Clare Crockett, who was killed in an earthquake in Ecuador, is carried into Long Tower Church in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire
The funeral cortege of Sister Clare Crockett, who was killed in an earthquake in Ecuador, arrives at Long Tower Church in Londonderry. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The funeral of Sister Clare Theresa Crockett at St Columbas Church, Long Tower in Derry. The 33 years old nun from the Mother Order died in who died in Playa Prieta when a school collapsed when Ecuador suffered from an earthquake on the 16th of April. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 02.05.16

Mourners at the funeral of Sister Clare Crockett who was killed in the Ecuador earthquake have heard she was an "inspirational example of womanhood".

The 33-year-old nun was killed in last month's earthquake in Ecuador.

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, a member of the House Of The Mother Order which she joined in 2001, was one of six people who died when a four-storey building collapsed as the earthquake struck on April 17.

The former Nazareth House Primary School and St Cecilia's College pupil died as she tried to help children to safety when the earthquake hit.

After her death the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust liaised with the Ecuadorian authorities and with the deceased's Order for the return of her body to Derry.

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."

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

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett
Sister Clare Theresa Crockett
Sister Clare Theresa Crockett.
Sister Clare Theresa Crockett was based at a school in Playa Prieta with the Home of the Mother order.
The school where nun worked
Sister Clare Crockett at the school in Playa Prieta
Sister Clare Crockett with one of the pupils
Rescuers dig in the ruins after the earthquake

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."

Sister Crockett's remains arrived at Dublin Airport on Friday and were transported to her family home at Iona Park in the Brandywell area of the city. She is survived by her parents Gerard and Margaret, sisters Shauna and Megan, nephew Cahir and nieces Lily, Kayleigh and Maisy.

Fr Eamon Graham, of the Long Tower parish in Derry, said the family was relieved to have Sister Clare home.

"There is a great sense of relief also in the local community," he said. "The community has shown sympathy with many people signing the book of condolence."

Striking example of Derry womanhood

Fr Eamon Graham's eulogy in full

Two weeks ago yesterday on the day that the Catholic Church prayed for Vocations to the service of God, we awoke to the sad news of the earth quake in Ecuador, 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.

We first of all offer our deepest sympathy to Clare’s parents and sisters, the wider family and her religious community. You are having to deal with an unimaginable cross. No parent expects to bury their child.

This past fortnight we as a community and you as a family have asked many questions about God and his ways. We have questioned our faith we have felt feelings of anger and bewilderment. There have been few answers.

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. Always expressed in her Derry directness and always lived out with joy and enthusiasm.

St John’s Gospel we have just heard tells us that "There are many rooms in my Father’s House". This was a favourite Gospel of Sister Clare’s. She saw room for us all in the Father’s house. She often spoke of this Gospel.

We are rightly very proud of our city. Through the troubles and difficulties that we have experienced over the years one of our greatest strengths has been that of our women who often were the breadwinners and held society together. The Derry women have so often lived the Gospel by putting the needs of others first.

Sister Clare was a striking example of Derry womanhood. Clare 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 but she did it above all as a woman who never forgot her Derry and her Brandywell roots.

Many people have spoken of how meeting Clare had inspired them to change their direction in life. She has continued to do this in her death. Clare gave God all the credit for all the good that she was a part of. As a young girl growing up in this Parish attending the Nazareth House Primary School and St Cecilia’s College she had a great zeal for life and the ambitions of every young person. She always said that she hoped for fame but she gave that all up. In many ways she has achieved that fame now and much of her good work will continue in the future.

Clare often talked of an anecdote concerning the late Pope John Paul the Second. When asked if we’re tired his response was that he could not remember. She understood him to mean that the work was so important to him that tiredness did not matter. Clare lived her life by the same values.

In Pope John Paul’s Funeral Mass Cardinal Ratzinger referred to the Gospel I mentioned, the one that was Clare’s favourite, he said that "John Paul was looking down from the window of the Father’s house."

It is our prayer today that Clare now looks down from that same window.

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord.

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