A religious order of sisters has paid tribute to one of its members and four postulants who were killed in the devastating earthquake which struck Ecuador on Saturday.
Sister Clare Maria Crockett, from Derry in Northern Ireland, worked at a school, Colegio Sagrada Familia, in Playa Prieta, where she taught alongside other sisters of the Home of the Mother Order.
The missionary was teaching young children to play the guitar when the earthquake struck. She tried to lead the children to safety but died following the collapse of stair-well. Her body was discovered under the rubble on Monday by rescue teams.
Sister Clare had been a missionary for 15 years and had arrived in Ecuador in 2012.
The Home of the Mother Order has created a video documenting the life of the sister finishing with a clip of her playing the guitar to school children and singing about the Good Shepherd parable.
During the video, Sister Clare, who took her perpetual vows in 2010 reflects on a short story about St John Paul II, where she says: “He was on an apostolic visit and they asked him after a long day of different activities, ‘Holy Father are you tired?’ and the response has given me a lot of light.
“He answered ‘I don’t know’. It’s an example of a man who has completely forgotten about himself to give himself to the others.
“Sometimes you get tired of course, but even though I am tired I hope to not feel sorry for myself and to continue giving myself to God.”
There were three other professed sisters and seven young postulants who were present at the school during the earthquake. All of the sisters survived but four of the postulants died.
Sister Estela, Superior of the Community, described that when the earthquake first hit she ran to rescue the Blessed Sacrament from the chapel and at the moment she placed it in her hands, everything collapsed around her.
A statement from the Order said: “Her first thought had been to save the Lord before saving her own life, and the Lord rescued her in turn – there is no doubt about it.”
The statement added: “As Sisters who sincerely love each other in the Lord, we mourn the loss of our Sisters. However, our faith assures us that ‘death is not the end of the path.’
“Sister Clare had spent nearly 15 years of her life in consecration to the Lord. She was a generous Sister with a special gift for reaching out to children and young people. The postulants had entered the Order just a year ago and were generously preparing themselves to become Servant Sisters. And the Lord found them all prepared.
“As soon as we received the first telephone call, we asked Our Blessed Mother to protect them all under her mantle. We are certain that she has done so. And now our gaze is fixed on Heaven, where we hope that the merciful Lord has received them. “