Sister Clare Crockett: All or Nothing
A Case Study in Spiritual Transformation
A precocious 17 year old girl with bright blue eyes and chestnut hair, from a very poor section of Derry, Northern Ireland, was living the dream as an actress. She dove in head first, all or nothing, as she embraced the show business lifestyle. As a partier and socialite, drinking, smoking and dating became her pastime when she wasn’t acting in commercials or hosting a talk show. Clare Crockett's greatest desire was to become famous and one day do films in Hollywood. During Holy Week 2000, that all changed when she was asked to take the place of someone on a retreat held in Spain.
Clare said yes because she thought it was going to be a vacation and an opportunity to party. It turned out to be an intense Catholic spiritual retreat. Little did she know, God’s plan was to bring Clare to see him crucified on Good Friday and for her to have a spiritual breakthrough and conversion.
“During the Good Friday liturgy, the faithful adore and kiss the Crucifix. Clare joined them. It was a simple gesture, but it was a changing point in her life. When the service was over, a sister found her crying as she repeated, “He died for me. He loves me! Why hasn’t anyone ever told me this before?” Clare had understood how much the Lord loved her and how much He had done for her. She understood that “Love is repaid by love alone,” and that the love the Lord asked of her meant a complete donation.”
Even though she had an initial conversion, when she returned home, the teenage Clare had a major fall and she became lost in her old way and lifestyle of mortal sin again.
”She got caught up again in the whirlwind of superficiality and sin that the world of cinema offered her. She expressed herself in these terms, “I lived very badly; I lived in mortal sin. I drank a lot, I smoked a lot, I began to smoke drugs. I continued with my friends, with my boyfriend. I continued in the same way. I didn’t have the strength to break with all these things, because I didn’t ask the Lord to help me.”
At one of her lowest points, drunk in sin, she experienced Jesus’s presence as a voice within calling her out.
"One night, at a party, she overdrank once again. When she was vomiting in the bathroom, she felt that Jesus said to her, “Why do you continue to hurt me?”
She responded to God's call with the motto, 'All or nothing'. She was going to be a famous nun and no one could change her mind.
“Neither her family’s pleas, nor her manager’s promises could stop her. On August 11, 2001, she gave her life to God as a candidate in the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother.”
Once she joined the sisters, she found God and experienced his love for her. She was able to begin to resist temptation.
“Yet Clare had surrendered to Jesus Christ’s immense love for her, and there was nothing that would stop her. She herself explained, “At first, I was tempted to look back and say, ‘I want it back.’ But I understood that I had found an even greater love.”
She followed St. Catherine of Sienna in adopting a deep spirit of humility before God.
“She received a grace to comprehend what the Lord had said one day to Saint Catherine of Siena: “You are the one who is not, and I am He who is.” It was something that transformed her interiorly and helped her, as she matured humanly and spiritually, to put the many gifts with which she was endowed at the Lord’s service for evangelization.”
She became motherly in her love for the youth, nourishing and healing.
“Sr. Clare began to show her special gift to reach the souls of children and young people, teaching them the truth and the love of the Lord, guiding them in the personal process to heal their interior wounds. Her zeal for souls, especially those of the youth, was immense.”
Her life centered around the Eucharist and she transmitted enthusiasm for Jesus in the Eucharist to others.
“The children picked up on the enthusiasm that she had for the Eucharist. She overflowed with enthusiasm for the Lord. Once you had been with her, you knew you had to pick up that same enthusiasm. It was so catchy.”
Sister Clare had a complete openness to doing the will of God. Whatever he asked, she would do.
“Sr. Clare had just taken her perpetual vows. She had given herself completely to the Lord and she did so with all her strength. There was an example that Sr. Clare used a lot, which helped her to place her life in God’s hands. It was the example of a ‘blank check.’ Each day she would give a blank check to the Lord, so that He could ask of her whatever he wanted.”
Whatever work she found difficult she kept that to herself and never complained. She offered her work as a sacrificial prayer.
“She gave everything with a great sense of humor.” Sr. Ana Maria admires to this day Sr.Clare’s obedience and affirms, “I still do not know what things she liked to do and what things were hard for her. I could never tell. And when I would ask her to do something, her answer was always, ‘Of course!’ And on top of that, she was always observing to see what was needed and so offered to help. At the end of that year I thought to myself, ‘I want to learn how to obey like her.’”
She demonstrated an awareness that she was pouring herself out and was intentionally fighting exhaustion.
“When I arrived in Ecuador, we were listening to the life of John Paul II, and in one of his apostolic visits they asked him, ‘Holy Father, are you tired?’ and he answered, ‘The truth is…I don’t know.’ It was my first week here in Ecuador and I wanted to use that quote from John Paul II not as my motto, but as my way of life here. Sometimes you get tired, of course! Work tires you out, but even though I am tired, I hope to not feel sorry for myself and to keep giving.”
Sr. Clare allowed the Holy Spirit to possess her, so that when she sang she demonstrated a total giving of self.
“They remember her singing and singing, even to the point of losing her voice, and, even then, she continued to sing, in spite of the heat, fatigue, and migraines. Her way of singing reflected the way she lived. Sr. Kelly Maria Pezo recalls, “When she sang, she kept nothing back. And when she lived, she kept nothing back.”
She had completely detached from the world and embraced the cross and suffering, so that her love for those she served would be transformed and agapified.
“Even though Good Friday is a sad day, I don’t know how to explain the joy and enthusiastic desire I have to suffer for the Lord. Everything seems little to me: the lack of sleep, fasting, the heat, having to attend to the people… Everything that could be difficult fills me with joy, because it brings me closer to the Lord… I spent a good amount of time in front of the cross asking for the grace to never, never forget everything that the Lord and Our Lady have suffered for me.”
Clare had confidence that she had reached holiness and was destined for heaven.
“Why should I be afraid of death, if I’m going to go with the One I have longed to be with my whole life?”
Signs that even after her death, Sr. Clare continues to affect others and lead them to holiness.
“We began to receive messages of prayer and support, but above all, testimonies of people who had been touched by Sr. Clare’s story and had decided to return to the Sacraments and to live their faith with greater intensity.”
Biographical Facts: Sr. Clare was born on November 14, 1982, in Derry, Northern Ireland. She entered the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother on August 11, 2001, at the age of 18. She took her first vows on February 18, 2006, taking the religious name of Sr. Clare Maria of the Trinity and the Heart of Mary. She took her perpetual vows on September 8, 2010. She passed away during the earthquake in Playa Prieta on April 16, 2016.
Prayer for Sr. Clare’s Intercession: Heavenly Father, For Your glory, that of Your Beloved Son, that of the Holy Spirit, and that of Our Blessed Mother, we ask that You grant us the grace for. . . . (mention your request).... as a sign that the life of our sister Clare Theresa Crockett has been pleasing to You on this earth and that she is now rejoicing with You in Heaven. We ask this through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.