Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Sr. Dianna Ortiz, presente!

Sister Dianna Ortiz, 62, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph for 43 years, died Friday, February 19 in Washington, D.C., after a brave battle with cancer. 

In 1989, while doing mission work with Mayan children in Guatemala, she was abducted by government forces and tortured. According to the website of her order, “After much prayer and counseling, she became a grassroots organizer for the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission in Washington, D.C. (1994-2000). In 1998, she founded the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International in Washington, to advocate for the abolition of torture and to support its victims. Her book, The Blindfold’s Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth, was published in 2002. She testified before Congress concerning human rights and torture and received numerous honors for her work from peace and victims advocate organizations.”


At the time of her death, she was serving as deputy director of Pax Christi USA. The organization issued a statement that said, in part, “As anyone who ever encountered Dianna knows, she was an extraordinary person. We have lost a member of our family, the heart at the center of our life together as a staff who lifted all of us with her unceasing encouragement, support, kindness and gentleness. Our heartbreak and grief are only tempered by our gratitude and love for all Dianna has been for us, and for the rest and peace that she now has. The entire Pax Christi USA community mourns with all those who know and love Di, and we give thanks for the time that she was among us.”


The Ignatian Solidarity Network issued a statement that said, in part, “although she endured the darkness of torture in Latin America in the 1980’s and the darkness of recurring cancers in the last decade, Dianna always chose the light, committed to working for peace and justice. From the brokenness and pain of her torture and its aftermath, beauty and joy emerged. She modeled the gentle strength of non-violence and the deep compassion for others reflected in Catholic Social Teaching.”