If anyone dedicated her life to fighting for the Latino community of East Harlem, it was Carmen Villegas. Today, the neighborhood mourns this Puerto Rican activist, who on Wednesday, at age 58, lost her battle with cancer.
“Carmen was a model for us to understand the value of spiritual life, but also taught us to love Puerto Rico and its cultural heritage,” said Gloria Quiñones, her friend and companion of struggle for over two decades.
Born in New York and raised in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Villegas was a key figure against displacement, lack of affordable housing and the gentrification of El Barrio. Among her most famous work was the campaign against the closure of the Our Lady of the Angels Roman Catholic Church. The parish that had served the Hispanic community of East Harlem for generations was closed by the Archdiocese of New York in 2007, not without strong opposition from the community.
“She was a Puerto Rican and proud of it, and lived a life of pure commitment,” said Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito of her former mentor.
According to her sister, Mary Agnes Satterfield, Villegas consolidated her humanitarian work as a member and leader of organizations like SFDS Housing Development Corporation, Community Board 11, Aspira of New York Inc., Lincoln Medical & Mental Health Center, and the National Catholic Conference. Besides it, she is survived by her brothers Miguel Villegas, Virginia Villegas and Evelyn Gonzalez, and her nephews.
Carmen Villegas’s remains will be veiled on Sunday at the funeral home Frank E. Campbell, in 1076 Madison Avenue, beginning at 2:00 pm On Monday there will be a Mass at 11 am at the church Saint Catherine of Genoa, where her coffin will be taken to give a final goodbye to the church in the Catholic faith professed by more than 33 years. Her remains will travel to San Juan to be buried on the island on Wednesday that she loved to the end.
New York Viewing:
|Date:||Sunday December 9, 2012|
|Time:||2pm to 5pm and 7pm to 9pm|
|Place:||Frank E Campbell Funeral Chapel at 1076 Madison Avenue|
|(corner of 81 St), Manhattan|
|Direction:||#6 train to 77 Street. Madison Avenue buses uptown.
Fifth Avenue and Lexington Avenue buses downtown
|Date:||Monday , December 10, 2012|
|Mass:||St. Catherine of Genoa Parish, 506 West 153rd Street, Manhattan
|Memorial:||In Front of Our Lady Queen of Angels, 228 East 113 Street
between 3rd Avenue and 2nd Avenue, Manhattan
|Time:||After the Mass. Around 12:30pm|
|Carmen will be viewed in Puerto Rico,
where she will be laid to rest. Details to follow.