Sr. Clare lived in Guayaquil (Ecuador) for two years before transferring to the community of Playa Prieta. In the community of Guayaquil, we teach at a nearby school from Tuesday to Thursday. Sr. Clare taught religion to the youngest students, from 4 to 7 years of age. During recess, the kids would always offer us some of their snack, but we always said that they had to eat it to grow up strong. One day, a little boy was talking to Sr. Clare while he ate his strawberry yogurt and cereal. At a certain point in the conversation, the boy said that what was left of his yogurt was for Sr. Clare, and he insisted so much that she took what was his leftover yogurt and cereal. She took it home, all happy, and walked in to the house saying, “Look what they gave me!” We looked at her and said maybe it wouldn’t be the best idea to eat it. She offered some to us and said, “What? You really don’t want any? It’s pretty good! Fine, I don’t care, all the more for me! But I’m not going to throw it away – that would make me feel bad.” We insisted that it was going to make her stomach hurt, that later she would regret it, etc. But she made an expression as if she were making us jealous and said “Mmm… it’s delicious! You just don’t want to admit you really want some.” The next day she had a terrible stomachache.
Sr. Clare singing in the choir
She had a special gift for music. She learned how to play the guitar by ear, without any instructions. She invented her own finger positions on the guitar strings, but in the end it always sounded right. Once, in the parish choir, she wanted to teach them a song with the guitar, and she drove the guitar players crazy because they just couldn’t believe she invented her own positions on the guitar and it sounded just like the real chords.
Also in the choir, which she directed, she often repeated, “Here we sing for God and for Our Lady; it’s not about showing off. Whoever wants to show off can find himself another choir; this one sings for God. Everyone who comes to sing with us should be in the state of grace, because that’s how things turn out well. Whoever is not in a state of grace needs to go to Confession before coming to choir practice.”
We spent many hours travelling in the car. I don’t know if she had a list of things to do in the car, but she always had a new game that we could play to make the hours go by faster. She was always prepared to help us pass long periods of waiting.
It’s true that she had a special gift for making others laugh and cheering people up, but many times it required an effort for her to overcome herself. One day, we were commenting on the importance of the “little” daily efforts that each one of us has to make for the sake of the community, to really become a family. Each one of us said a few things, and I remember- because it surprised me to hear this- that she said sometimes it was really difficult for her to tell jokes and do things to make others smile. But she knew she had to do this and not let herself be led by whatever mood she found herself in at that moment, even though she would prefer to just be silent.
Lots of people pass through our house, and it’s often difficult to keep certain parts of the house in order, especially the bookshelves, the folders we use for catechism, CD’s and movies, etc. One day we were both at home and we passed by one of these shelves. We commented on how unorderly it was, and she said, “I often stop to put it all back in order, but it always ends up a mess.” We left it like that, and each one of us went off to do what we had to do, but after a few minutes she came to me and said, “Sister, how about if we try to organize it again?”