Diana Ortiz

I suspect many readers will not recognize the name in the title. She passed away at age 62 on Friday. She was an Ursuline Sister, born in Colorado, raised in New Mexico, vowed in Kentucky, and served the Ursuline Sisters in Guatemala’s western highland during the years of that country’s civil war. She was an elementary school teacher. Please take a moment to read her Washington Post obituary – it tells her story, in part.

I did not know Sr. Diana, but I met her on many occasions in the mid-90s after her return to the United States. She led a 40-day hunger strike to protest the United States government’s involvement in the torture of citizens and her own torture at the hands of the CIA-supported Guatemalan military and security operatives. She lived in Lafayette Park across from the White House during the 24/7 hunger strike. She was barely 100 pounds when she started.

The local faith and justice community asked for people to be present in solidarity on a round-the-clock basis. Especially in the hours from 10 pm to sunrise, they asked for men to be present. I spent too many cold nights in the park, in solidarity, in vigil, and in prayer.

Over the years, my friend, Fr. Joe Nangle, OFM would keep me up to date on her life and ministry. She had a permanent spot on my prayer list. Late last week the text messages began to come in from friends who knew her, who had lived with her in the Assisi Community of Washington DC – terminal cancer.

May she rest in the peace that only God can give.

photo credit: Washington Post

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