Thursday 27 October 2016

Irish nun who died in horror quake gave up life of parties and drinking to help others

Sr Clare Crockett, who died in the Ecuador quake. Photo: PA
Sr Clare Crockett, who died in the Ecuador quake. Photo: PA

An Irish nun killed in the Ecuador earthquake had given up a life of partying and drinking to help others, friends and family members have said.

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett (33), from the Brandywell area of Derry, was among 350 people who died when the 7.8-magnitude quake struck on Saturday.

A second Irish nun, Sr Therese Ryan (36), from Limerick, was pulled from the rubble in their building in Playa Prieta with a fractured ankle.

Five postulates, or trainee nuns, also died when the building collapsed. They were named by their Home of the Mother Order as Ecuadorian Sisters Jazmina, Mayra, Maria Augusta, Valeria and Catalina.


Two other nuns were rescued, Sr Estela Morales (40), the superior from Spain, and Sr Merly Alcybar (34), from Ecuador, who survived a wall falling on her.

Sr Clare had been with her order for 15 years, entering religious life when she was 18 after giving up plans to become an actress.

She had appeared as an extra with actor Jimmy Nesbitt in Paul Greengrass' movie, Bloody Sunday.

Sr Clare joined the order almost by accident after going to Spain when she was 18 for what she thought was a holiday but which turned out to be a pilgrimage.

"I liked to party a lot. My weekends, since I was 16 or 17, consisted of getting drunk with my friends. I wasted all my money on alcohol and cigarettes," she later wrote.

"I tried to get out of it, but my name was already on the ticket, so I had to go. I now see that it was Our Lady's way of bringing me back home, back to her and her Son."

Sr Clare's cousin, Emmet Doyle, said she was "a superstar - everybody loved her".

"She died as she lived, helping others," he said.

Her spiritual director and personal friend, Derry priest Fr Roland Colhoun, said her death had devastated all who knew her.

He said she joined the order in Spain, had gone to the United States and returned to Ecuador a couple of years ago for a second time.

"The terrible news has devastated everyone who knew her," he said. "This is a young girl who gave her life to God and died for the Gospel. She literally died in the line of duty.

"She was a joyful girl. I've known her since she was a teenager. She was a beautiful person. I'll remember the joy she brought to her youth group and the enthusiasm she showed for her vocation to religious life.

"It's counter-cultural to join a religious order for a young girl, but she embraced it. We'll remember her with such affection.


"She was 33 but had the vitality of a teenager. We're devastated she has lost her life in such a tragic way."

Sr Theresa, the head of the order based in northern Spain, said: "Sister Clare had spent nearly 15 years in consecration to the Lord. She was a generous sister with a special gift for reaching out to children."

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