Henry Torres, who is studying his fourth year of theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, is the first person to tell you that God has been very good to him.
On Nov. 5, he will be ordained as a transitional deacon on his way to priestly ordination for the Diocese of Brooklyn next spring. He also says that it was the intercession of St. Teresa of Calcutta that got him through two kidney transplants and brought him to the verge of receiving Holy Orders.
To thank Mother Teresa for her favors, he travelled to Rome earlier this month to personally witness her canonization as a saint of the Church.
He was on retreat in Ann Arbor, Mich., the week before the canonization when he told his story about what he believed was a miracle by Mother Teresa to Father Jonathon Kalisch. The priest, together with the Knights of Columbus, arranged for Henry to get a gold ticket to the ceremony at the Vatican. All he had to do was to get there and find a place to stay – no easy task with only days to go.
“I’d never been to Rome and didn’t where I was going to stay and I didn’t have the money,” said Henry, a member of St. Malachy-St. Michael parish in East New York.
Before he knew it, his brother seminarians and friends took up a collection and some priest-friends found him a place to stay and he was on his way.
“I was seated right up by the altar on the right hand side,” Henry recalls. “I was walking up and the Swiss Guards were saluting me. If only they knew, I’m just this guy from Brooklyn. It was a very humbling experience.”
He used the opportunity to take photographs with Sister Mary Prema Pierick, the current superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, and others. He collected posters, prayer cards and books to remember the visit.
“It still feels like a dream,” he says. “Mother Teresa is someone I always looked up to.”
Torres has had medical issues with his kidneys since he was 11 years old. Ask him and he’ll tell in detail about his auto-immune system and his creatinine levels. Suffice it to say that by age 14 he needed a kidney transplant and his mother gave him one of hers.
It seemed to be working fine for about six years when it stopped functioning properly and he went on dialysis.
On his birthday, Sept. 6, 2012, he asked his family to pray before the first-class relic of Mother Teresa that he kept at his home. It was a gift from Father Ray Roden.
While in his room at the Cathedral Seminary Residence in Douglaston, he received a call from Albert Einstein Hospital in Philadelphia telling him to come the next morning for some tests. By the end of the following day, he was on the receiving end of a kidney from 44-year-old man who had died from brain trauma.
He says that medically he had been in poor shape and had slim chance of finding another donor.
“I can’t explain it. That’s why I believe it’s a miracle from Mother Teresa,” he says. “Mother Teresa came through and things continue to fall into place for me. I feel great.”
He approaches ordination “very much at peace” and is mindful of how good God has been.
He hopes to repay the Almighty by being “a witness of this goodness to me.”
“Our God is a good God,” he says. “He can make the impossible possible.