Sister Priscilla Torres, OP, made her final profession with the Sinsinawa Dominican Congregation April 13, 2013. The ceremony was held in the Immaculate Conception Chapel at Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, Texas. Weeks later, she said, “I’m still basking in the glory of God!” In making her final profession, Sister Priscilla committed to life as a woman religious “unto death.” “It’s what I’ve been waiting for. Now I can live it to the fullest. I feel contentment, joy, Alleluia! This is the greatest blessing God could have given me.”
Sister Priscilla began opening herself to God’s call as she worked in high school youth ministry at St. Albert the Great Parish, Austin, Texas. While coming back from a retreat with students, she realized she needed more. “God invited me,” Sister Priscilla said. One day, she heard the word “nun” in her mind. “I just put it off,” she said. She eventually saw an invitation in the diocesan paper for a “Come and See” weekend with the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters in San Antonio. She went and found these Sisters gathered as one group of faithful women and yet completely different from one another. Priscilla discovered she was looking for a place to belong and where she could be herself. The Sisters and the women attending the weekend prayed, talked, and shared experiences about religious life.
The women who attended the weekends were all in different stages of discernment. Priscilla recalls as she left the gathering, Sister Maryann Lucy, OP (Maria Georgia), a Sinsinawa Dominican and the woman who would later become her first formation director, whispered in her ear, “I think you’re ready to step in the boat.” Priscilla entered in 2006.
Sister Mary Ann Nelson, OP, has walked with Sister Priscilla in her discernment as the Sinsinawa Dominican director of initial membership programs. During her formation, Priscilla ministered at St. Francis Center, Redwood City, Calif., for a year; at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in St. Louis, Miss., for a year; as a student at Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, for four years; and at Divine Mercy House, Jacksonville, Fla., for the past year.
Sister Mary Ann sees Sister Priscilla as one with great energy, a compassionate heart, and a great sense of humor. “She has a willingness to do what is needed. Sister Priscilla has a great ability to love and accept everyone. Her love of life is contagious. This is a vow for life. Sister Priscilla made profession with great confidence and enthusiasm. It’s not an easy thing for a woman to do today.” The Blessed Mother has given Sister Priscilla courage. “She has travelled with me,” said Sister Priscilla. “Her witness, her fiat, was and is a model for me.”
Sister Priscilla expects to continue to grow into her vocation, saying in religious life you are always in formation. “God continues to reveal to and form me,” she said. “There are lots of sacrifices in religious life as well as blessings. I ask for God’s grace and focus on Jesus and the cross.” She feels blessed to be able to experience the joys and sorrows on people’s journeys. Living in community with her Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters and her prayer life are central to sustaining her vows.
Divine Mercy House, a Christian maternity home for women over age 18, will continue to be Sister Priscilla’s ministry. She serves as the assistant resident director, promoting God’s gift of life by journeying with young mothers and their babies and providing a loving and nurturing environment to meet the needs of each mother and child, resulting in solid foundation for their future well-being. “We provide the love and compassion of Jesus. I am blessed to tell women they are not alone, God is with them,” she said.
Growing up in Big Spring, Texas, Sister Priscilla was a member of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Sacred Heart Parishes (now Holy Trinity Parish). Her parents, Alicia Ruiz Torres and Victor Pardon Torres, still live there. She said, “To know where God has called you is a gift and a blessing.”
Sister Priscilla is inspired by St. Catherine of Siena, who said, “If you are what you should be, you will set your whole world on fire.” She is guided by a quote from Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, OP, the founder of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, “Let us set out for any place where the work is great and difficult, but where also with the help of the One who sends us, we shall open the way for the Gospel.” Tradition is important to Sr. Priscilla, too. As a follower of St. Dominic, she lay prostrate at her final profession. “It was one way that Dominic prayed,” she said. With her final profession made, she moves forward with great enthusiasm, saying, “Now I can live my religious life to the fullest, even unto death.”
A video of Sister Priscilla’s final profession is available online at www.sinsinawa.org/live. Click on the “On Demand” tab and click on “Watch” next to the profession video.
For more information about the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, visit www.sinsinawa.org.