Alone With Christ Alone
Friday Book Pick: Sr. Clare Crockett Servant Sister of the Home of the Mother:
Alone with Christ Alone
By Sr. Kristen Gardener, SHM
Playa Prieta, Ecuador: the earthquake began at 6:58 P.M. on Saturday, April 16, 2016. The Sisters of the Home of the Mother and some of the young people they served would be buried beneath the collapsed building which ultimately claimed the life of Sr. Clare Crockett and her five young pupils to whom she was teaching guitar at the time. The news of Sr. Clare’s death traveled quickly, and I remember the shock and sadness I felt when it reached us here in New York. This tragedy was close to home. We knew these sisters. They had stayed at our novitiate here in New York when Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States. Immediately, as I recall, there was talk of sainthood and a holy card of Sr. Clare’s smiling young face was on our prayer board.
No question, the death of Sr. Clare Crockett was saddening and tragic. A young beautiful energetic religious sister gone in an instant. Certainly, her vocation was inspiring—even without knowing one fact about her other than the bare-bones reality that she gave up everything and freely choose to follow Jesus Christ in poverty, chastity and obedience is inspiring. But suddenly holy cards were circulating and we were praying to her for miracles.
Then came the opportunity to see a film on Sr. Clare’s life. This young Northern Ireland native with aspirations of fame and fortune on the silver screen gets duped into a pilgrimage. She thought she was going on a vacation and the sunbathing, smoking teenage rebel had an encounter with the love of God that would define the path of her life. The film is a wonderful introduction to Sr. Clare Crockett and the community she would join, and watching it was both deeply moving and inspiring.
And now a 426-page book fills out the rest of the story. The beauty of this detailed account of the life and vocation of Sr. Clare Crockett is that the reader gets to see her as she was before encountering Jesus Christ on Good Friday when she was 17 years old, and after. The reader gets to feel her struggle to respond to the graces she is receiving, gets to see her options with her, and experience the consequences of those choices in this detailed account of Sr. Clare’s life. The reader gets to learn what she was thinking, what she was reading, what she wrote in her journal, and the impression she made on the people who knew her at every stage of her life. This book is a testimony to virtue and what it looks like from the inside.
I have never read a book quite like this. We have lives of modern saints, sure. I think of Blessed Solanus Casey who said Mass right in this convent where I am now as I write this. But this young woman was actually a contemporary, (she was born in 1982 and made final vows in 2010)—her family pictures from the 1980’s could have been my own. She read the same books I read and lived the life I aspire to live. Having a building fall on you will not make you a saint. But living your life as a total gift will. Sr. Clare Crockett, SHM lived her life as a total gift. I pray for the grace to live as she lived—all or nothing!
Mother Clare, CFR