Sr. Kristen Gardner is the author of the book Sr. Clare Crockett: Alone With Christ Alone, on the life her classmate in religious life. The book is lively and engaging, and features hundreds of photos! New Hope Publications interviewed Sr. Kristen recently.
Sr. Kristen, please tell us a little about yourself.
I am from Columbus, Ohio, and I was baptized Presbyterian. By the grace of God, my parents and my entire family entered the Catholic Church when I was seven, and a year later, in Fatima, I felt the call to religious life. At the age of 16 I entered the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother. I am currently in our motherhouse in Spain, helping out wherever I’m needed!
How did you come to write this book?
Sr. Clare Crockett from Northern Ireland was a Sister of our community who entered at the same time as I did, and we were candidates and novices together. When she passed away unexpectedly in 2016 in an earthquake in Ecuador, her story immediately began to spread and to touch people around the world. As a response to the constant requests to know more about her, I headed the project for a documentary about her life in 2018 (link here). In 2019 I began to write this biography.
Do you think that God had a reason for taking Sr. Clare to Himself so young?
When the earthquake happened, I remember in the midst of the sorrow, I felt that Our Lord asked me, “But don’t you have faith in eternal life?” He was pushing me to be joyful—even though I couldn't understand at the time why He had taken Sr. Clare so suddenly.
However, I soon began to understand. We received messages and phone calls starting on the very day of the earthquake, and they weren't just from people who had known Sr. Clare personally. People all over the world were reading the testimony of her conversion and her radicality in following Christ, and they were spontaneously turning to her for help. Everyone who writes shares how they feel as if they had know her their entire life, as if she were a long-time friend, and that she is helping them to return to the Lord or to leave mediocrity behind. It seems clear that her mission did not finish here on earth.
Since it’s about someone who died young, in a natural disaster, isn’t this a sad or depressing book?
No, it’s not sad or depressing at all! Sr. Clare had such a great sense of humor that you will be laughing non-stop as you read the book! As I was writing, I asked her help so that I could truly communicate her joy, and I believe that she did indeed help me to do so.
It’s true that many people tell me that they don’t want the book to end and that, when they approach the end, they don’t want to read the last chapter about her death, because they want her to continue to live. However, since we have faith in eternal life, I think that’s precisely what gives hope and even greater joy once the book comes to an end. I personally do not consider her to be dead. It is true that her earthly life has ended, but I truly believe that she is still alive and giving glory to God, as she desired to do here on earth. And now Our Lord is permitting so many people to experience her help and friendship in their daily lives.
What do you think is the main message of Sr. Clare’s life?
Sr. Clare’s main message is: “All or nothing” (which is the title of the documentary). If you choose to follow Christ, you have to follow Him wholeheartedly, keeping nothing back. There’s no room for lukewarmness in the life of a Catholic!
Who do you think would benefit most from this book?
The book is written for a very wide audience. In life Sr. Clare had a gift for being able to
reach people of all ages and all states of life. And after her death, she continues to touch people of all types.
The first part of the book, about her youth and her conversion, is especially directed towards teens and young adults—they will find that she was a normal young person, just like them! And if she could do it, they can, too.
The second part perhaps touches more those who have already begun a strong spiritual life and who can identify with the purifications that Our Lord permitted her to undergo. But I truly think there is something in the book for everyone!
Click here to order the book.