Sister Carmen Torres Arroyo

We commend to your charity the soul of our beloved

Sister Carmen Torres Arroyo

who departed this life on May 16, 2013

in the forty-fifth year of her religious life

Age: 70 years, 4 months, 23 days

Resurrection Service: Wednesday, May 22, 2013, at 4 p.m.

Sister Carmen Torres Arroyo passed into eternity on May 16, during the time between the Ascension and Pentecost. Historically, this is the time during which the Apostles took leave of the physical presence of Jesus on Earth and awaited the coming of the Spirit. That time was liminal space for them—a time of transformation. Preceding her death, Sr. Carmen was in liminal space—on the threshold. She was in a medically induced coma, as she was being treated for the many medical issues from which she suffered. She was literally in the “cloud of unknowing.” This space would lead her to full transformation as she awaited her call home. Sr. Carmen’s ordeal began with gallbladder surgery on April 26. Apparently, even though she came through that surgery well, she began to experience complications due to the many surgeries she endured as the result of a serious car accident six years ago.

Nilda, later to be known in religious life as Sr. Carmen Marie, was the 10th of the 13 children born to Roque Torres and Ruperta Arroyo. She was born and raised in Lares, Puerto Rico. In 1968, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, located in South Bend, Indiana, which had missions in Puerto Rico. She was introduced to the Sisters of Divine Providence while ministering in Puerto Rico. She was attracted to the Providence charism and opted to live and work with our Sisters at San Miguel in Utuado for a year. She began a process in 1977 that would lead her to transfer to us on August 1, 1978. Sr. Carmen was under temporary vows when she transferred, and professed final vows as a Sister of Divine Providence on March 25, 1984.

Sr. Carmen lived in local houses at Providence Heights as she was being incorporated into our Community. She assisted Sisters Grace Jones and Zita Kessler in their program for the retired Sisters. She also ministered at La Roche College for a year in the campus ministry program; however, Sr. Carmen’s real passion was to be a helping presence to people in need. In Puerto Rico she had obtained a B.A. degree from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico at Ponce. To prepare for her desired ministry in Community, that of social work, she matriculated at the University of Pittsburgh in the social work program and focused on mental health. During her studies, her field placement was at the Women’s Center and Shelter on Pittsburgh’s North Side. After completing her degree in 1984, Sr. Carmen went to Lorain, Ohio, to minister to a Hispanic community, who were mostly Puerto Rican. She ministered there until the present. She worked as a therapist, counselor, caseworker, and social worker. At times she worked with adults and at other times she ministered to children and families. She served at the W.F. Nord Mental Health Center for 15 years, at Sprenger Enterprises for a year, then at the Lincoln Counseling Center for Children for four years, and, finally, at Bellaire JCB, her last place of ministry. She was an asset to the Hispanic community, not only because she spoke their language, which allowed her clients to tell their stories in their native tongue, but because of her warm, compassionate, genuine manner. She worshipped at the Hispanic parish, Sacred Heart Chapel, and was a strong and energetic presence in the parish community. She played the maracas in one of the church choir groups and was sorely missed when she was not present. The church community was fluid with her convent community. The parishioners felt welcomed where she lived. Her talent with planting and arranging flowers was always evident. She was an excellent cook and enjoyed sharing food with members of the parish community at her table or by taking food to people in need. Her devotion to the people of the parish and their devotion to her were evident in the years following her accident, but were profoundly obvious in the days surrounding her final illness and passing—while she was in liminal space. She was described by the people with whom she ministered as a true and faithful servant of the Lord.

Finding one’s soul always involves leaving one’s comfort zone, letting go, and being able to live on the edge—in liminal space. Certainly, Sr. Carmen did that during her lifetime. And, most certainly, she did that in the days preceding her death. Now Sr. Carmen is no longer on the threshold. She is in the loving embrace of her Provident God.

Birthday: December 23

Written by Sister Maria Fest

If you would like to make a gift to the Sisters of Divine Providence in memory of Sister Carmen, visit our donation page.