My first memory of Sr. Clare is from August 2011. I had just arrived at the house where the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother live in Zurita located in Cantabria, Spain. I wanted to spend some time with the Sisters before World Youth Day in Madrid. It was my first time with the Servant Sisters, and I was surprised and happy to see the kind of life they lived. It was a clean, joyful, very free and spontaneous environment. I loved everything and was very impressed by the other girls who served and obeyed promptly.
My heart was restless regarding my vocation. I was not sure what the Lord wanted of me. A sister encouraged me to speak with Fr. Rafael Alonso, Founder of the Home of the Mother. Sr. Clare translated for me, because I did not speak Spanish. When I spoke with Fr. Rafael, everything suddenly seemed so clear to me. It was evident that the Lord was calling me to the religious life. So, it was through Sr. Clare’s voice—thanks to her translation—that I understood that I had a vocation.
During the pilgrimage that preceded World Youth Day, I was worried about finding the place where the Lord wanted me to give myself to Him. I already knew that I had a vocation, but now the question was where and with whom? I was really impressed by the open atmosphere among the group of young people in the Home. I also noticed how the girls trusted Sr. Clare a lot. They were always telling her things. She was always singing and encouraging others, but you could tell that she was the one controlling and guiding the good atmosphere. She set the bar high and maintained it that way the entire time.
August 15 was the last day of the pilgrimage before beginning World Youth Day in Madrid. We had a meeting with Fr. Rafael in Segovia in which he spoke about the Home of the Mother. That meeting was fundamental in my vocation because it was when I heard the call of the Lord to become a Servant Sister. It was a huge grace—so great that I wanted to share it with everyone.
A few days later, one of the girls asked us if we had received a grace during that time. I said yes, and explained that I had received the grace to know what my vocation was. Sr. Clare was at my table and she encouraged me to continue sharing my experience with the girls and to also encourage them to ask for big graces.
On the day of the encouter with Pope Benedict XVI, we had to be at Cuatro Vientos very early to get seats close to the platform where the Pope would later be. While we were awaiting the Pope’s arrival, we sang, told stories, etc. There was a moment when music was played through the loud speakers, but it was club music. We were really surprised that at an event with the Pope and thousands of young people music like that was being played. All of the sudden, Sr. Clare approached me with other girls and said to me, “We’re going to find out if we ask them to get rid of the music.” You could tell she was really pumped. It was a mission, and when I saw Sr. Clare so convinced and brave, I followed them. We found the person in charge and said, “Look, we are a group of young people and we are here to see the Pope, not to listen to this type of music. Can you please do something about this?” He said that he could not do anything because the music was already in a playlist. We left a little sad, but this helped me because I felt courage and strength to continue fighting for justice.
At the end of the trip, my vocation was clear to me. After hearing about the Home of the Mother Student’s Residence and the life the girls live there, I felt that the Lord wanted me to live there with the candidates in Jacksonville, Florida. I wanted to continue getting to know the Home and to live that life before asking to enter.
On the last day, there was a lot going on and I thought that it was not going to be easy to speak with Fr. Rafael or M. Ana. We were already eating, and I was with Sr. Clare. I started to feel really anxious because I still had not spoken with Father. I said to Sr. Clare, “Sister!” She looked at me with a scared and worried face. I continued, “I have to live in the Residence!” At that very moment she stood up and said to me, “Come with me!” She went to look for Father. She totally surprised me and I left me dumbfounded. At that moment, I understood how Sr. Clare felt it was urgent to help souls respond to the Lord. She helped me understand that responding to my vocation was not a small matter.
Another memory I have is from July 2012, when I was working outside with Sr. Clare. We were in front of the Casita in the courtyard in Zurita. We had a tone of bags full of old blankets. We had to take them out, shake them, and fold them up again. Sr. Clare started to sneeze out of control and her eyes watered, because it gave her really bad allergies. It was a very unpleasant job. I asked her, “Are you alright? Should we keep going?” She very calmly said to me that she was fine, without giving it much importance, and continued working. I remember being amazed watching her and seeing her obedience and perseverance.