T.O.R. Franciscan Sister Dies of Cancer at Age 38 in First Death for Order – Her Beautiful Story

Sr. Teresa Reyes, Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother, Facebook / ChurchPOP

The Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R., of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother announced the death of 38-year-old Sr. Teresa Reyes.

Sr. Teresa died on Feb. 20, 2023 after battling cancer. Her death is the first of this Franciscan order, which was founded in 1988.

“We’d like to ask for your prayers as one of our dear sisters – Sr. Teresa – went home to the Lord yesterday. She had been battling cancer,” the Franciscan Sisters wrote on Facebook. “Thank you so much for your prayers for her soul, for her family and friends, and for our community during this time.”

The sisters also livestreamed the funeral on Mon., Feb. 27 at 11 am ET in the Toronto, Ohio Motherhouse chapel.

Here’s the announcement below:


Click here if you cannot see the post above.

Sr. Teresa will be buried in the community’s new cemetery on the Motherhouse property. On Thurs., Feb. 23, Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton blessed it.

The sisters published photos of the event on Facebook:


Click here if you cannot see the post above.

The post reads, “Yesterday, our Bishop and some of our Marian and T.O.R brothers came and blessed our new cemetery grounds on our Motherhouse property.

“It began with a procession from the chapel to the grounds while chanting Psalm 122, and was followed by Scripture readings, songs, and prayers led by the Bishop.

Sr. Teresa is the first sister in our community to enter eternal life and the first who will be buried in our newly blessed cemetery. Thank you for your continued prayers for her family, our community, and all those who love her.”

About Sr. Teresa Reyes

Sr. Teresa entered the T.O.R. Franciscan community in 2014, taking the name “Teresa” after St. Therese of Lisieux.

Before entering the convent, Sr. Teresa grew up Passaic, N.J. in a Catholic family as the youngest of three children with an abundant Dominican heritage.

The summer following her sophomore year at Rutgers University, Sr. Teresa said the Lord “poured out abundant graces” upon her. She began deepening her relationship with the Lord and studying the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux.

After that “grace-filled summer,” she began attending weekday Masses and spent intimate time with God in prayer.

“As I pursued my relationship with God more wholeheartedly, I began to experience Him as my brother, my friend, and as my Father. He was the one that I could turn to when I needed a shoulder to cry on and someone to comfort me,” she said in her vocation story.

“When I was having a great day and just wanted someone to share it with, He was there too. Over time, I felt like He was pursing me and inviting me into a deeper relationship with Him, inviting me to give Him more of my heart.”

She later met the Brotherhood of Hope religious brothers during her junior year of college. Through these consecrated men, and through St. Therese of Lisieux’s writings, Sr. Teresa saw that “religious life is not empty (as I had imagined), and even came to see it as attractive.”

Also at this time, she experienced the love Jesus offers in the Eucharist in a “profound way.”

She then slowly realized her call to religious life.

“Through the Eucharist, I experienced His longing to be with me. Over time, the Lord really captured my heart,” she said. “I realized that He alone can love me perfectly and that in Him alone can I place my hope for true, lasting happiness. He alone can satisfy the desires of my heart.”

“…Christ is everything I ever hoped and dreamed for in a husband and more–infinitely beyond my wildest imaginings. He’s the one for whom I want to serve and live. It’s in Him that I find joy and meaning in life. It’s Him to whom I entrust my heart and it is He who holds my heart.”

Here’s some more photos of Sr. Teresa:

Read Sr. Teresa’s full biography here.

Eternal rest grant unto Sr. Teresa Reyes, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and all the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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[See also: How a 20th C. Mystic Led Mother Angelica to Miraculous Healing Through St. Therese of Lisieux]

[See also: The Great Power of Silence: 3 Beautiful Ways to Pray Like a Saint]

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Jacqueline Burkepile is the editor for the English edition of ChurchPOP. She is a journalist, former university campus minister, and a wife and mother. You can follow her posts on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.

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