"Our faith is like a living organism that grows and decreases, it rises and descends, it changes and transforms itself step by step; it matures in every crossroad of our path."
– Lucas Torres, "Parábola del Crucificado", 93
Lucas Torres Román, has transitioned to his ultimate dwelling place; to the place where the mystery of God’s love has taken him. His passing hurts us deeply. But we find comfort in the way he viewed life, the way he lived his faith and the way he shared his hope. There is a sense of culmination and fullness of a ministry entirely accomplished. Lucas gave himself completely and without reservations to the ministry of a pastor. As he constantly reminded me, "Carmelito, I always wanted to be a pastor, and that is all I have ever wanted to be." Because of that desire, he accepted the vicissitudes and difficulties of a pastoral ministry, particularly in rural areas of the island of Puerto Rico and then in the cities of the United States.
As we look at his journey of faith, we discover an inner strength that nurtured and marked his life; a faith that was enlightened, tested, cultivated and measured. His reflective attitude and eagerness for knowledge led him to intense readings from literature to theology and social sciences, delving and researching to decipher mysteries and reservations. That quest for knowledge made him more human and tender, providing him with opportunities for debate, intense conversation, open dialogue and sincere friendship. He was a pastor given to vigils and sleepless nights, sometimes anonymously, with the most disenfranchised, confused, ill and destitute human beings. With his guitar on his shoulder, his Bible or poetry book on hand, he knew how to guide, delight and invite others into the real sense of human existence. In his pastoral ministry of streets and restaurants, Lucas met a host of persons from show business, well renowned intellectuals, university students, artists and bohemians.
For more than two decades Lucas was mentor, host and director of recreation at the summer camp, Mclean Conference Grounds. With passion and diligence he led in games, folklore and worship. He eventually became the counselor for young people of the Disciples of Christ Church in Puerto Rico. He is a true icon to our youth. Youth ministry flourished in every congregation he pastored, as he provided space and opportunity for young people to assume visible leadership in the church.
Early in life Lucas discovered that he had a serious congenital heart condition. This fragility confronted him with the possibility of a short lifespan. However, he managed to turn an adversity into a positive factor. In the midst of his suffering and pain I never witnessed a hint of bitterness. His spirituality was rock-solid without "truculence" (as he used to say), and without emotional pretentiousness. Lucas cultivated the disciplines of prayer and meditation that gave him the necessary rest and respite in the midst of uncertainty and doubt. We only need to read his poems and his "Meditations on the Way to the Cross", to perceive his spiritual frame of mind and the quality of his theological and pastoral reflections. Those dimensions nurtured his preaching, always maintaining relevancy and theological clarity. His masterful command of the Spanish language and his outstanding poetic abilities were adequate complements to his conviction and eloquence.
I used to tell Lucas that he and our friend Moises Rosa, "lived at the cutting edge"; always at risk. In 1976, Lucas faced an open-heart surgery and its complications with great strength and without fear. I remember his letter to me while I was a missionary in Costa Rica in which he explained the surgical procedure to which he would be going through. In the letter he wrote: "Carmelito, all roads lead from Jerusalem to Rome but I feel strengthened." Most admirable, was his solidarity with other patients who also suffered from cardiac illnesses and would have to undergo open-heart surgery. He would encourage and accompany them and their families in the midst of their crisis. Lucas used his experience and turned it into a ministry of accompaniment of heart patients.
Lucas was a loyal friend. I would underscore that he would transform friendship into brotherhood. With Ferdinand Garcia, David Vargas, me, and many others who are too many to list, he cultivated a friendship in which, affection, confidentiality, mutual respect and transparency were evident, free of falsehood or hidden agendas. To all his friends, the truth!
Lucas arrived at marriage on his own time. That has also been an extraordinary experience. Manuelita became a unique complement to our friend and colleague. The God of tenderness and kindness was always in the midst of Lucas and Manuelita as they formed a family that is so dear to us. Their sons, Lucas III and David Horacio have been God’s special gift to them. These young men brought many blessings to Lucas and he never let a moment go by without sharing his great pride for them. His gratitude to God for having them and for the privilege to guide them through life was constant. Each academic and professional achievement of his sons brought him great joy. Lucas has been a model husband and a dedicated loving father.
There are two more dimensions of Lucas’ life worthy of mention. He was a grateful son, admirer of his father and profoundly affectionate to his loving mother, Tana. It was evident that he shared great respect and mutual admiration with his brothers Samuel and José Manuel, as with his sister Nilia. He had an immense affection for his family.
For Lucas Torres Román, life has been a pursuit in the adventure of faith. By the grace of God this pilgrimage of hope has encountered the ultimate reason for that life. The Mystery that kept and nurtured him, has now received him with loving arms. Thanks, be given unto God! And unto this servant, brother and dear friend, be given an "until we meet again", full of tenderness and devotion. We love you very much Lucas!
By Dr. Carmelo Alvarez
November 11, 2008