‘One minute I was going to be an actress, the next it was a nun’

Sister Clare playing her guitar.
Sister Clare playing her guitar.

An audio clip in which the late Sister Clare Crockett describes how she went from being a rebellious teenager to dedicating her life to God, has been put online by the Congregation of Sisters she belonged to.

The Home of Mother Order has published an interview the Derry nun gave at the Queen of Peace Radio station in Florida in 2006, where she speaks about drinking heavily as a teenager before feeling moved by God’s grace to leave everything and give her life to him.

Since her death in the Ecuador earthquake last month, the Sisters have been sharing different videos showing how Sister Clare taught singing and dancing to younger people.

And yesterday they revealed they will be coming to Ireland this summer to hold camps for young women aged 14 and over, and while they are here, they will visit the grave of Sister Clare in Derry.

In the interview Sister Clare speaks about how she would go to Mass when she was “wee” but as she grew up, she stopped going to Sunday Mass.

“I didn’t pray, I didn’t know who Mary was, I didn’t know that Jesus had died on the cross for me,” she said.

The Derry nun wanted to be an actress and even had her own manager, worked as a presenter on TV and had a small part in a movie.

“I liked to party a lot,” she said. “I would go out every weekend and get drunk and smoke with my friends and stuff like that.

“One day one of my friends called me up and said ‘You wanna go to Spain?’ and I was like yeah. I thought we’d be going to Ibiza and we were all going to party.

“The day we left my friend said she forgot to tell me it was a pilgrimage. I was thinking, oh my God. we are going to be praying for eight days, but my name was on the ticket and if I didn’t go they would have lost 800 dollars.

“I went and it was like a Holy Week encounter in a monastery from the 16th century. There was nothing there, no central heating, it was just you and God.

“I remember there was talks and Mass but I would be sitting outside sunbathing, smoking my cigarettes.

“Until Good Friday came. There’s a tradition that you go up to the cross and give a wee kiss at the feet of our Lord. I had never heard of that in my life, that Jesus Christ had died for my sins.

“I thought it was so silly, but in two seconds, God can give you a grace that can change your life. I remember looking up at him and at that moment I felt the mercy of God. I saw that it was my sins that had nailed him to the cross. I started crying and crying. I kept thinking how I killed God.”

Clare revealed how when she went back to Ireland she became very successful in the world of acting.

“I had a lot of money,” she said. “But by the time I was 18 I was beginning to have a drink problem, it wasn’t just at the weekend, every second night I would drink and it wasn’t just a few beers, I would drink to get drunk. I would drink so much I would be sick.

“I remember one night sitting in the bathroom and I was looking down, I thought I was going to be sick, I felt that someone was looking at me. The presence felt so strong that I looked up. All of a sudden I felt these words in my head - why to you keep hurting me? I felt God was there looking at me.

“I was in England and the next night I didn’t go out but stayed at home. I looked at my schedule and I started crying. I felt I had everything, money, success and a boyfriend. But I felt a great emptiness inside of me.”

She said God told her if she left everything - she would find him.

“I am testimony to that,” she said. “One day I was going to be an actress, the next I was going to be a nun. I went to Spain knowing only two words. With the grace of God I was able to leave. God is worth all that. And here I am.”

You can listen to Sister Clare’s interview in full on www.derryjournal.com