In the 21st century, more than two thousand years after the supreme Sacrifice on Calvary, holiness is often thought to be a passé ideal, incompatible with life in today’s world, unattainable in the midst of globalization, unthinkable in the world of instant messaging and social networks.
This is what a young woman with a dissipated lifestyle thought until, one Good Friday, the gaze of the Crucified One changed the course of her life…
A talented Irish girl
Clare Theresa Crockett was born in the city of Derry in Northern Ireland on November 14, 1982. The first child of Gerard Crockett and Margaret Doyle, she demonstrated from an early age that she had a strong, charming and vivacious character. Brimming with natural gifts and talents, she spread a contagious joy and was always surrounded by friends, although her fiery temperament was frequently the cause of fights and disagreements…
A born actress, accustomed to being the centre of attention and known as a challenging child, Clare gave her teachers a hard time with her mischievous ways. Very bright, she pursued her studies successfully with little effort. However, she sometimes resorted to unscrupulous methods: once time she even stole the teacher’s answer book in order to complete her lessons more quickly…
As could be expected, Clare did not always apply her abilities to good ends. She also took advantage of them to lie, exaggerate, and to shirk responsibility… For her, everything was justified when it was a matter of attaining her objectives.
The girl grew up in a Catholic environment, until her family was afflicted by a series of adversities that led to a marked estrangement from the Faith. Although she continued to fulfil some religious duties that her parents demanded of her to keep up appearances, she gradually abandoned the true path to tread another, strewn with vice and sin. Very early, she became acquainted with smoking, alcohol and bad company; she went to nightclubs using fake identification and drank in an unrestrained manner.
In spite of this, a unique quality blossomed in her personality: determination. “All or nothing” was, in fact, the motto that guided her life.
Dreaming of a Hollywood career
Having developed her artistic gifts, Clare played various roles in theatre, commercials and television programs in pursuit of her great dream: to be a famous actress. She dedicated herself to the study of performing arts and took every opportunity to demonstrate her talent, in which those around her placed great hopes.
However, as time passed, far from feeling happy with her achievements, Clare began to notice the immense and constant emptiness that she felt in her heart: each new success brought her deep depression. Although she was still attracted to prestige and worldly glories, she felt there was something beyond the kind of happiness she was chasing after. However, unable to understand what it was, she sank deeper and deeper into her vices.
A spiritual retreat instead of the beach…
In the year 2000, Clare received an invitation. To be precise, it was a misunderstanding, which in reality was the hand of Providence eager to draw her to Himself.
Her best friend, Sharon Doherty, was scheduled to travel to Spain for Easter week. However, some time before, she was stricken with acute appendicitis and was unable to take the trip. Not wanting to lose her place, which had already been paid for, she offered it to Clare. The latter, misled by the touristic allure of the place, accepted the proposal, certain that beautiful beaches and bustling nightclubs awaited her.
What she could not imagine was that she was leaving for a Holy Week retreat with Home of the Mother,1 and a pilgrimage to various shrines in Europe. It was a monumental shock for her to find herself confronted with days of compulsory prayer! Unable to extricate herself from the commitment, she decided to make the best of the trip, taking part as little as possible in the meetings and meditations.
However, Good Friday being such a special day, Clare could not avoid the liturgical ceremony. At a certain moment, without really knowing what it was all about, she got in line like everyone else to adore the Holy Cross. Just imitating what the people in front of her were doing, she genuflected and kissed the Crucifix. However, this act had a strong interior impact on her.
This is how she describes the grace that touched her: “I do not know how to explain exactly what happened. I did not see choirs of Angels or a white dove come down from the ceiling and descend on me, but I had the certainty that the Lord was on the Cross, for me. And along with that conviction, I felt a great sorrow […]. When I returned to my pew, I had imprinted in me something that was not there before. I had to do something for Him who had given His life for me.”2
Unexpectedly, Clare found herself on that occasion alone with Jesus, and experienced immense sorrow for her sins – committed against that Love which was poured out upon her – and understood that she could do nothing to console Him except give her life to Him.
“He loves me. He died for me,” was the only thing she could articulate, amid tears, after the blessed celebration. In a manner in keeping with her still-superficial nature, Clare came up with a unique solution to combine her longing for celebrity with her new desire for holiness, explaining to all the pilgrims on the same day that grace had visited her: “I want to be famous. […] An hour ago, I was all, ‘I want to become a nun too.’ So then I said to myself, ‘I’ll become a famous nun!’”3
Clare could scarcely have imagined that her dream would be fulfilled to the letter: God would indeed make of her what she envisaged on that occasion!
New falls and the final resolution
However, the path this soul still had to tread was a long one, filled with obstacles. Inside herself, the weakness of fallen human nature was mixed with the heart of an eagle which was hesitant to take flight.
After a second trip with the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, the women’s branch of the Association, she returned to Ireland and her struggle became more intense. School and parties once again filled her daily life, month after month, and she did not resolve to break with the world. Bad friendships and vices dragged her, like another Magdalene, into even worse abysses than the previous ones.
Clare wanted to erase from her memory the graces she had received with the Sisters of the Home, but the Lord “pursued” her with fatherly love. Once, while in a discotheque, she sensed the reproachful and affectionate gaze of the Saviour saying to her: “Why do you keep hurting Me?” It was the Good Shepherd seeking the wayward sheep, imploring her to abandon herself to His divine care, which could heal her.
The devil, however, would play his last great card in the difficult conquest of that heart, making the long-dreamed-of doors of Hollywood open before her. In February 2001, Clare landed a role in a film produced by the BBC. Although a minor role, it could have been the promising beginning of her career as a professional actress. The filming would take place in Manchester and she would stay in five-star hotels in the company of various celebrities.
From a worldly point of view, Clare couldn’t have wished for more at that moment in her life. She could palpably feel her brilliant future… But she felt unhappy and, in the end, she understood that her place was far from there. Thus, she resolved to leave.
The decisive step towards religious life cost Clare dearly. To detach herself from her family, to face the opposition of friends and acquaintances and to abandon so many vices were some of the struggles that she, strengthened by God, managed to overcome. She soon discerned what she should be in the Association: “A holy servant, closely united to Him, willing to suffer anything and go anywhere for His sake.”4
Aiming to achieve this goal, she began right away to pray insistently for the gift of fidelity: “Help me to hate the sin that You hate, that stains me and distances me from You. I don’t want to give You any more thorns, I don’t want my God to weep for me.”5
School of love
Outstanding graces and a profound knowledge of her nothingness and of her personal misery filled the first months of her life as a religious and prompted the many insights that she wrote in her notebooks with a simplicity proper to the friends of God.
It is worth mentioning her absolute ignorance in religious matters, but what she did not know through her intelligence, God mysteriously communicated to her soul: “Father, although I do not deserve it and I am an ungrateful daughter, You have at times made me experience Mount Tabor, the glory of Christ and of the Trinity in me, in the depth of my soul.”6
Nevertheless, sanctity was a bitter struggle for Clare. She felt weak, she often relapsed into the same miseries as before, and she saw herself in need of great purification, as can be seen in the notes of her spiritual journey: “Despite my efforts at union with the Lord, at times I fell into egoism”;7 “Do I want to overcome myself? Yes. What makes me suffer the most? Not being a reflection of Him, not being like Him. My lack of charity and humility.”8
The keynote of her path of sanctification was always love, with which she sought to repay God’s infinite Love for her. And, well aware that to love implies suffering and self-denial, she taught: “Love is sacrificial, not superficial or sentimental.”9 She also had a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin: “I know that I am very dear to her Heart and sometimes She has let me rest there.”10
In the midst of struggles and decisive spiritual progress, on September 8, 2010, Clare finally made her perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Due to her union with Our Lady and the Three Divine Persons, she decided to take the name Sister Clare Mary of the Trinity and the Heart of Mary.
Faithful until the end
Without losing any of her radiant joy, her artistic talent and her personal charisma, Sr. Clare gradually became an authentic example of generosity for all those who lived with her. Throughout her fifteen years of religious life, wherever she was, she stood out for her obedience, her self-giving and her radical dedication to and observance of Catholic morals.
She was not afraid to indicate the right path to those she directed, or to be clear about the demands of virtue, as the fruit of her insistent petitions to the Lord: “Give me the grace never to be afraid to bear witness to You, never to hide my rosary when I go out […]. Help me never to flee from the wolf.”11
The trials with which God wanted to purify her were sometimes surprising in their severity; nevertheless, her sensitive and weak soul became strong by allowing itself to be crucified with the Crucified and, for this reason, she never manifested the interior desolation which she often felt.
Having advanced in a very definitive manner on the path of self-denial, love of God and sacrificial giving of herself to her neighbour, on April 16, 2016 Providence came to harvest her soul, like an agreeable fruit, ripened by sufferings and sweetened by charity. An earthquake in the city of Playa Prieta, Ecuador, where she then resided, put an end to her earthly trajectory. She was the only religious to die in that event, and by the goodness of Our Lady she was very well prepared for it.
Let us give ourselves entirely to God!
Clare was a model of authentic conversion for the humanity of our century. She proved with her own life that sanctity is the only way to Heaven and that it is within the reach of everyone, through the infinite merits of the Passion of the Redeemer.
Today each one of us is called to follow her example, putting all that we are and possess into God’s hands, without keeping anything for our own egoism! May she intercede for us and grant us a profound comprehension of the fact that we cannot offer the Divine Lamb anything by halves; it is a matter of giving Him “all or nothing”! ◊
1 Public Association of Faithful founded in Spain by Fr. Rafael Alonso Reymundo.
2 GARDNER, SHM, Kristen. Hermana Clare Crockett, sierva del Hogar de la Madre. Sola con el Solo. Zurita: Fundación E.U.K. Mamie, 2020, p.63.
3 Idem, p.65-66.
4 Idem, p.143.
5 Idem, p.147.
6 Idem, p.165.
7 Idem, p.153.
8 Idem, p.145.
9 Idem, p.231.
10 Idem, p.167.
11 Idem, p.158.