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People can scoff at the faithful, but the world is a poorer place with the death of brave Sister Clare Theresa Crockett

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 23/04/2016

First Minister Arlene Foster writes movingly in today's paper about how she was brought to tears by news of Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, from Londonderry, who died while trying to save children during an earthquake in Ecuador.

She also mentioned Maud Kells, the nurse who has spent nearly 50 years helping people in the Congo, and who continues to work there despite being injured by bandits.

The selfless example of these two women of different ages and backgrounds is inspiring.

When Maud Kells became a missionary many years ago, it was more socially acceptable to a church-going generation who understood the impulse for such work.

There was also a great courage and vision that motivated Sister Clare. At 18 she was bright, talented and a self-confessed party animal with the world at her feet. Yet she gave it all up to carry out good works thousands of miles from her homeland and family.

It is easy in today's secularised society to be superior, if not dismissive, about those who act on their Christian faith, as if they were somehow stupid. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The First Minister made a thought-provoking point about the contribution of church-based and faith-motivated organisations in supporting the most vulnerable in our society.

Her comments should prompt us to ask what would be the effect if these good people decided to withdraw their support for the homeless, the addicts, and the destitute? What would people do if there were no more church-run food banks or midweek clubs and church lunches for old people, many of them living in lonely isolation? It is easy to be sceptical of such people, but many will have been impressed by the decency of Clare Theresa Crockett, who, as a relative noted, died helping others, and doing what she wanted to do.

The First Minister, as a person of faith herself, admired Clare's work, and there will be many others of different faiths, and of none, who will also greatly respect her work, and that of many others. That is how it should be.

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