Thursday 26 April 2018

Joy and sadness for family of nun who survived earthquake

Relatives of Sr Therese 'relieved but devastated' at loss of her friend Sr Clare

St Therese Ryan with a student at the school in Playa Prieta in the province of Manabí in Ecuador
St Therese Ryan with a student at the school in Playa Prieta in the province of Manabí in Ecuador

Greg Harkin

The family of an Irish nun injured in the Ecuador earthquake say they are both relieved and devastated after the disaster.

Sr Therese Ryan (36) was born in Limerick but grew up in Monaghan town.

She has been discharged from hospital after breaking her ankle in the weekend quake which claimed the life of her friend and fellow Irish nun, Sister Clare Crockett (33).

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been liaising with the Ecuadorian authorities on behalf of the family of Sr Clare from Derry.

"We were overjoyed to hear Therese had survived," her sister Patricia told the Irish Independent. "But it was also a feeling of devastation at the loss of Sr Clare and the five other nuns who died.

"I had met Sr Clare a few times and she was the most wonderful person and her death is shocking for the order and for her family."

Sr Therese joined the Home of the Mother order 16 years ago.

"She has been in Ecuador for the past five years and loves her work there. We keep in touch by phone and email but we haven't met since she went out there," said Patricia, one of a family of six.

"As a family we are relieved for Therese. We haven't been able to speak to her as yet, but we have been in constant contact with the order in Spain and they have assured us that she is well and that she was able to leave hospital on Sunday. She is being taken care of.

"We are hoping to talk to her over the next few days but there is no way of reaching her at the moment."

Patricia said her sister and the other nuns were involved in "wonderful work" in Ecuador.

"From what we have seen it looks like the earthquake has caused an enormous amount of damage, but hopefully they can rebuild things and move on. It's such a shock for all of them."

Sr Therese, Sr Clare and the Ecuadorian nuns were on the third floor of a four-storey school building in Playa Prieta in the province of Manabí when the 7.8 magnitude quake struck on Saturday night. The Derry nun was pronounced dead on Sunday morning.

Five postulants - or trainee nuns - also died when the building collapsed. The were named by their order as Sisters Jazmina, Mayra, Maria Augusta, Valeria and Catalina.

Two others were nuns rescued, Sr Estela Morales (40), the superior from Spain, and Sr Merly Alcybar (34), from Ecuador, who survived a wall falling on her.

Sr Therese, the head of the order, based in Cantabria in Spain, said: "Everyone is still in shock at what happened and are recovering from their ordeal."

The order has been liaising with the families of the dead and injured.

She said the nuns had been working in the school but had also been carrying out "significant humanitarian work" in the area following recent floods.

She said there were no students in the school at the time of the earthquake.

Irish Independent

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