I met Sr. Clare in her first trip to Spain during the Holy Week Encounter in 2000. She came with a group from Derry, located in the Northern Ireland. The adults were very enthusiastic about their faith; they sang many joyful songs to the Lord that became a part of our repertoire for years. At some point in their life, they had participated in what is known as “Cursillos in Christianity,” so they felt very united when they sang “De colores.”(Note: “De Colores” is often sung in “Cursillos in Christianity” retreats.) Among the young girls who accompanied those adults, there was a bit of everything. Sr. Clare was definitely the most inexperienced of the girls in questions of faith.
In our HM Holy Week Encounters, we usually split up into teams of about ten or twelve people, which makes it easier for group reflections and chores. Sr. Clare was in my group with other Irish and American girls.
That year we celebrated the Great Jubilee of 2000, and the topic we discussed during the Encounter was the Eucharist. Each day of the Triduum there was a formation talk. That year the talks were a little bit elevated, so in order to understand you had to have some knowledge of the spiritual life. The talks did not pique the curiosity of Clare Crockett, a 17 year old girl who seemed quite superficial. In fact, she didn’t attend any of the talks. In the group discussion, the first day, while we were trying to comment on the texts, so rich in doctrine and spiritual life, she could only say that she didn’t go to Mass on Sundays and didn’t think it was necessary either.
It was Holy Thursday. It was more difficult for Clare to escape the group discussions than the talks and Offices so she attended them. In order to overcome her boredom, she would talk in a lower voice and laugh with whoever was sitting next to her. After hearing a few times the word “Eucharist” she asked her first question, perhaps seriously wanting to participate, or maybe just to demonstrate that she wasn’t paying attention, “But what’s the Eucharist?” Another Irish girl, who today is Sr. Ruth O’Callaghan, responded to her question showing such a great love towards the Lord that Clare nodded with her head, showing that she understood and accepted what had been said. Clare was an upright girl. Even though she joked about everything, she never covered up the truth. After that, I think something opened up her heart.
On Good Friday, during the Veneration of the Cross, she received that which she so often told, as the grace that changed her life. After the Offices, I found her outside of the Church talking with a friend. She couldn’t stop repeating in her unique accent, “I love Him; I love Him.” I could clearly see that she wasn’t acting, she was speaking from her heart. On that occasion she surprised me by her sincerity and innocence. I always remember her as an authentic young woman, as authentic as a child.