I am Sarah Benett. I am 20 years old and I am from Jacksonville. My family is a part of the Home of the Mother. My sister and I met the Home when we were 7 years old at a summer camp at Bishop Snyder High School. It was our first summer camp, and there are a lot of memories. Since then we have been fairly active with the Home of the Mother.
I met Sr. Clare for the first time years ago at a family retreat at St. Paul’s at the Beaches. From then on, she was very involved with my family and helped my mom out. My mom had breast cancer, so Sr. Clare helped with my younger siblings a lot, giving my mom a hand. She also helped me with my spiritual life.
At one summer camp, Sr. Clare was the team leader of two teams, and my twin sister and I were the co-captains of either team. I remember that it helped me out a lot, because she put me in charge of these young girls, both physically and also spiritually, helping them with their spiritual life. This helped me out a lot in taking care of my siblings, but also with my spiritual life, because I had so much to teach them and to offer to them. It was a very crucial time in my spiritual life, at that age, with Sr. Clare.
Another important time period was in 2011. My mom passed away with breast cancer, and my sister and I were scheduled to fly to Spain for World Youth Day not even a week or two after she passed away. When I got there, Sr. Clare suggested that I talk to Father Rafael about everything that had just happened with my family and to get advice to help me both mentally and spiritually. In those moments she helped me a lot with my spiritual life, to cope with everything that was going on. That trip to Spain was very beneficial for me. I think if I had not gone, my life would have been very different spiritually. She reminded me that my mom is in heaven: “You can continuously pray for her, but just remember that she is in heaven, and always talk to her.” She reminded me that my mom is there, that she can help me, especially with my other siblings, with my younger brothers and sisters.
When I found out about the earthquake, at first I didn’t know that Sr. Clare was there. One of the Sisters came up to me right before Mass and said, “I want to let you know that there are several sisters who were involved in an earthquake in Ecuador.” I was very anxious about it, but at the same time I didn’t know who the Sisters were, so for me it was just praying and hoping that everything would turn out well. But it was different when I found out that it was Sr. Clare, because I had a personal experience with her. My boss, Mrs. Lynn, who works in the cafeteria, called me and told me that it was Sr. Clare who was one of the sisters that they couldn’t find in the rubble. At first I was shocked. Then I just started praying. I don’t think it truly hit me until the next day, when I went to work (I work in the school cafeteria at Assumption in Jacksonville) and saw all the kids. There were so many who were impacted by Sr. Clare’s death. To see them and realize that this is actually happening – that Sr. Clare’s gone – was when I broke down. And it brought back memories of when my mom passed away and when my grandfather passed away. But it was also a blessing for me because I realized that there were so many people here who loved Sr. Clare.
Mrs. Nelms, a teacher at Assumption, helped me out a lot by talking to me and telling her own experience of Sr. Clare and of how she helped her. So although it was sad, it was also a beautiful experience seeing the people here who loved Sr. Clare and whom she affected. It was a very good experience. Now I know that she is up in heaven with my mom and my grandfather. It is a good feeling to think that I have so many more people to pray to, to help me here on earth. I need the help.
She always took the time to go and talk to people. Mrs. Lynn was telling me about how Sr. Clare would make to effort to go and talk to her every single day that she was there. She was full of joy and wanted to help people everywhere. That was Sr. Clare.