By Fr Shane Sullivan
One of the blessings God works though the saints is stirring us out of our complacency. The dedication, the zeal and love of our Lord that animated their lives is often a catalyst for our own self-reflection and further conversion. This is exactly the impact the life and death of Sr. Clare Crockett has had on many throughout Ireland and even further afield.
Though not yet canonized she might well be described as “a saint for our times and our people.” She was one of us. She had inherited many of the problems that too often affect our people: superficiality, worldliness, a lack of temperance and an aspiration for plenty of things that promised happiness but couldn’t possibly deliver.
Her dream was to become an actress. She seemed born for the stage. She had a natural flare for the dramatic and her talent and charisma emerged from her first stage productions in school. That talent and drive propelled her into more and more significant roles onstage, then onto television and then into film. Her life’s path seemed to be opening out in front of her. But God had something far more significant in mind for the young Clare.
At the age of seventeen Clare was invited by her friend to go with her on a trip to Spain. She immediately agreed. Visions of Ibiza and fun in the sun played in her mind. But when she went to collect her tickets she wandered into a gathering of fellow ‘holiday-makers’. They ranged from middle-aged to elderly, were praying the rosary together and preparing for their holiday- which was, in fact, a pilgrimage.
Somehow she overcame her shock and reluctance and went along to the pilgrimage. She participated in little until the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday. In her own words, it was there in that moment that Jesus Christ “stole [her] heart.” As she went to venerate the Cross she knew for the first time and in a most vivid way what no one had ever told her: that Jesus Christ died for her sins, that her sins put Him up on the Cross and that He loved her totally. This was the first movement in God’s work which changed her priorities, her future and who was at the very centre of her life.
All or Nothing
Sr. Clare’s temperament tended towards totality. She didn’t do anything in half-measures. So, as the spiritual eclipsed the worldly, she fell deeper in love with God and began to choose Him above all else. This was not easy. Saying ‘Yes’ to Him meant saying ‘No’ to all the other rivals for her heart. Her gifts had to find new purpose – they no longer were used in the pursuit of fame or money, but magnifying the Lord and building up His people. The initial conversion happened dramatically, all in a moment. The transformation took years afterwards and countless acts of self-denial and love. The end result however, was remarkable. Her own religious sisters describe her at the end of her life as having been made “beautiful,” and as “a light” to those around her. Her goodness attracted and inspired. Sr. Clare died as she lived, serving tirelessly on Saturday, April 16, 2016 in an earthquake that devastated many different parts of Ecuador. She died along with five young women who were aspirants in her religious community, the Home of the Mother.
Her story has been told in an excellent film entitled “All or Nothing.” The impact of the film on audiences in Ireland and around the world has been nothing short of remarkable, holiness made real and shown to be attractive and possible. Sr. Clare from heaven is still a most powerful instrument in God’s hands, particularly among young people. The film has been premiered in a number of different locations and schools. If you are interested in bringing the film to your area contact the Home of the Mother at firstname.lastname@example.org.