Young nun, postulants among hundreds of Ecuador earthquake victims

IMAGE: CNS photo/Henry Romero, Reuters


(CNS) — Six members of the Servant
Sisters of the Home of the Mother, including a young nun from Northern
Ireland, are among the dead in the strongest earthquake to strike Ecuador since

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett,
33, of Londonderry, died while leading children to safety in a school at Playa Prieta, where she was
teaching the youngsters to play the guitar, according to the Spain-based order.

body was found under rubble April 18, about 36 hours after the magnitude 7.8
earthquake struck the Pacific Coast region of the country.

Ecuadorean postulants also died in the collapse. The order identified them by
their first names: Jazmina,
Maria Augusta, Maira, Valeria and Catalina.

The six
women were among at least 272 people who died in the massive earthquake that
struck communities in the northern part of the country. Authorities reported
that nearly 3,000 people were injured and that an unknown number of buildings
were destroyed or damaged.

Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ relief and development agency, was
partnering with local relief organizations to determine how best to respond in the communities most
affected by the temblor. Water, food and emergency shelter are the biggest
needs, the agency said on its website.

of the poorest provinces are located near the coast and we expect thousands of
people to need immediate help,” Tom Hollywood, CRS’s representative for South
America said in a statement.

Some of
the hardest-hit communities in the earthquake zone, including in Esmeraldas and Manabi provinces, were
inundated with rain and flooding in the days before the disaster, making them
prone to potential landslides and complicating the relief effort, the agency said.

been really difficult to get in touch with our local partners,” Hollywood
said, explaining that communications networks are down or working intermittently.
“Last night, even here in Quito, the whole network collapsed.”

Francis sent words of condolence to Ecuador and Japan after praying the “Regina
Coeli” with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square April 17.

Japan’s Kyushu region was
shaken by a pair of strong earthquakes April 16 and 17, which killed 41 people,
injured hundreds and forced 180,000 people from their homes.

Ecuadorean bishops’ conference offered prayers for the victims in an April 17
statement sent to the Vatican’s Fides news agency.

thoughts go especially to our brothers and sisters in the provinces of Manabi and
Esmeraldas, who seem so far to be the most affected, and we invite everyone to
participate in the national collection for the victims in order to help in
their most urgent needs,” the statement said.

Clare’s family described her as a “superstar,” while friends said she
lit up a room when she entered, reported the Belfast Telegraph in Northern
Ireland. A relative told the Derry Journal she was “a diamond of the
family” who died as she lived, “helping people.”

Independent daily in London reported that Sister Clare wanted to be an actress and
wrote and acted in local theater productions. She admitted to spending her
weekends drinking and attending parties before joining the Sister Servants of
the Home of the Mother. She discovered the religious order by accident when she signed on
for a free 10-day trip to Spain, thinking it was a chance to party. After
learning it was a pilgrimage with mostly middle-aged women to the order’s
16th-century monastery, she tried to back out, but ended up attending and
discovered her religious vocation.

order said in a statement that it mourned the loss of its six members, but
realized that “death is not the end of the path.”

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 order said.

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,” the statement said.

other sisters and two postulants in Playa Prieta were injured in the building
collapse. They suffered various injuries, including broken bones and bruises, but
none of the injuries was life threatening, the order said.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article