In the Rockaways, the people that live in Belle Harbor have not forgotten Sister Maura Clarke.
"Maura Clarke was from this parish…every year we've had a mass in honor of her," said Father William Sweeney, the Pastor at St. Frances de Sales Catholic Church.
Clarke's face is memorialized on a stained glass window at the church. Sweeney said it is a tribute to her and the three other women murdered while doing missionary work in El Salvador in 1980.
Investigative journalist Eileen Markey wrote a book about Clarke in 2016 called “A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sister Maura.”
"She’s a really a great example of someone who said ‘I believe this.’ She was a catholic nun, she really believed in this particular dogmas and doctrines, but fundamentally she believed that the world should be built on justice," said Markey.
Clarke's family said that the release of the book generated a greater awareness of Clarke's life.
Then, in October the Pope granted sainthood to Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero.
He too was murdered in El Salvador in 1980, and under similar circumstances as Clarke.
His canonization gave the family hope that Sister Maura and the three other women working with her, two nuns and one missionary, might be similarly recognized.
"Through her entire life, she was just the model of goodness and of perfection and of caring. Just an exemplar religious person," said Peter Keogh, Clarke’s nephew.
Public support and awareness of Sister Clarke’s story only goes so far.
The official process involves the local bishop, in this case from the diocese of Brooklyn, investigating Clarke's life and then recommending her for sainthood.
NY1 contacted the Brooklyn Archdiocese, which includes Queens to see if Bishop Nicholas diMarzio would consider recommending Clarke for sainthood. As of Monday night, we had not received a response.
One other hurdle, Clarke still lacks a miracle attributed to her which is a condition of sainthood.
Most people would need to have two miracles attributed to them to be considered for sainthood.
Clarke only needs one because that is the requirement for martyrs.
Father William Sweeney, the pastor at Clarke's old church, is working on getting a miracle attributed to Clarke.
"We have a lot of the kids praying to sister Maura and telling her to watch over them," Sweeney said.
While they wait, Clarke's family said what is important to them is that they get the process started.
"The path to sainthood takes a very long time, it takes years in some cases, it takes decades in others, it takes centuries in other cases,” said Keogh.
Although the church has yet to take a position on whether Sister Maura should be a saint, her friends and family say they already consider her one.
The order of nuns, of which Sister Clarke was a member, said that they did not support an effort to pursue sainthood for Maura.
Sister Antoinette Gutzler of the Maryknoll Sisters said it was "The last thing Maura would want."
Gutzler added that Sister Clarke would not want to be singled out among the 70,000 Salvadorans killed in the same conflict.
Editor's Note: This story originally aired on February 11, 2019. On March 11, 2019, Bishop of Brooklyn Nicholas DiMarzio responded to the call to make Sister Maura Clarke a saint with the following statement:
"It is without a doubt that Sister Maura Clarke is considered a martyr of the Church because she was helping people at the time of her death. However, nobody can be designated a saint without the performance of at least two miracles having been attributed to them. If a person prays and receives the favor of the Lord on Earth, and a miracle is verified, that is how one is elevated to Sainthood. I encourage people to offer prayers for Sister Clarke, that we may come to fully know of her life and what she was able to achieve."