Sr. Clare was born in the divided city of Derry in Northern Ireland in 1982. A fun-loving, charismatic teenager, she quickly caught the attention of television producers. By the age of 15, she was contracted to present a show on Britain’s Channel 4 network. When Nickelodeon came calling, it was clear that she was on the road to stardom.
But in the year 2000, she went to Spain for a Holy Week retreat run by the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, a community founded in 1982 with a focus on the Eucharist, Marian spirituality, and outreach to youth.
She recalled later in her personal testimony that when she arrived in Spain she was “very superficial and a wild child.” But that began to change when she took part in the Good Friday adoration of the cross, kissing the feet of Jesus.
“I do not know how to explain exactly what happened. I did not see the 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,” she remembered.
“And along with that conviction, I felt a great sorrow, similar to what I had experienced when I was little and prayed the Stations of the Cross. When I returned to my pew, I already had imprinted in me something that was not there before. I had to do something for Him Who had given his life for me.”
It was the start of a long journey of conversion and healing that led to her joining the Sisters and taking her first vows in 2006.
“Her deepest desire was to have an undivided heart for God and for Him to totally transform her into Himself,” said Sr. Kristen. “She knew she could not achieve this on her own and she constantly begged His help, ‘Grant me an undivided heart. Do not let anything ever enter in between Your heart and mine.’”
Sr. Kristen, a native of Columbus, Ohio, who entered into the Servant Sisters in 2002, said that this prayer seemed to have been answered by the time Sr. Clare was sent on mission to South America, after stints in Spain and the United States.
“And right before going to Ecuador she wrote, ‘My heart is Yours, my mind is Yours, my thoughts are Yours. Ask me for anything. Nothing matters now, since nothing I have is mine! Possess me, Jesus,’” Sr. Kristen recalled.
“To see this strong interior life and relationship with God, which is what motivated her in her daily activity, to be generous and give her all to Him, was truly a blessing to discover and then to transmit in the book.”
Sr. Kristen, who is currently based in Rome, recalled that the news of Sr. Clare’s death spread rapidly around the world. The Sisters started to receive requests for more information about the 33-year-old’s life.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“We began to go through our archives to see what footage we had of Sr. Clare and we found quite a lot. The project to do a documentary about her life then began,” she said.
“Our way of going about it was quite simple: the communities of sisters in Spain, in the US and in Ecuador recorded interviews with the people who had known Sr. Clare. After about a year, all the material was gathered and I spent the summer of 2017 putting the film together. One of our sisters composed the music. All the sisters prayed. It was really a team effort.”
The film was released on April 16, 2018, the second anniversary of Sr. Clare’s death. The community didn’t pay for any ads to promote the documentary, but it quickly reached a global audience thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations.
“People simply are touched and forward it to their families and friends. I am shocked every time people tell me, ‘I can’t even count the number of times I’ve watched it…’ They watch it over and over again. Why? Because Our Lord has wished to touch people’s hearts through Sr. Clare’s testimony and life. There is no other explanation,” said Sr. Kristen.
“Thanks to the original footage of her, I think people are truly able to get to know her as she was: full of joy. We have many clips of her laughing and joking around, and I think this permits the viewers to see the true happiness that only God can give.”
In response to the growing interest, Sr. Kristen took on a second project: writing the first extended biography of Sr. Clare. Meanwhile, reports of miracles began to reach the sisters.