Sister Dianna Ortiz, OSU: Sept. 2, 1958-Feb. 19, 2021

Sister Dianna Ortiz, 62, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph for 43 years, died Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, in Washington, D.C., after a brave battle with cancer. She was raised in Grants, N.M.

Sister Dianna called on God to help her survive a traumatic event in her life to become an advocate for torture victims worldwide.

She taught at Immaculate Conception School, Hawesville, Ky., (1983-85) and Blessed Mother School, Owensboro, Ky. (1985-87) before doing mission work with Mayan children in Guatemala. While there in 1989 she was abducted by government forces and tortured. 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.

She served as deputy director of Pax Christi USA in Washington from 2010-2012. She served with the Center of Concern on its Education for Justice Project in Washington from 2012-18. In 2020, she returned to Pax Christi USA as deputy director, where she was serving at the time of her death.

Survivors include the members of her religious community; her mother Amby Ortiz of Grants; sisters Barbara Murrietta of Grants and Michelle Salazar of San Mateo, N.M,; brothers Ronald Ortiz, Pilar Ortiz Jr., John Ortiz and Joshua Ortiz, all of Grants; nieces and nephews.

Due to health and safety concerns, the wake service at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, and the funeral at 10:30 a.m., Monday, March 1, will be private. They will both be live streamed on the Ursuline Facebook page,

Donations in honor of Sister Dianna may be made to the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, 8001 Cummings Road, Maple Mount, KY 42356.


  1. Dianna Armstrong

    RIP Sr. Dianna Ortiz. You were a beautiful light in this world. I was glad that I knew you in the mid-80’s at the Mount. My prayers and condolences for your family and friends.

  2. Pat Howell

    Rest in peace Diana. I am sure you are now in the arms of the Lord you so dearly loved. You always believed that Jesus would take care of you and now you are in His presence for all eternity. Congratulations dear friend. You were a special gift to those who knew you, and will always be remembered by everyone who were blessed and inspired by your willingness, courage and faith. We were all gifted by your spirit and life-giving spirit to serve God’s people regardless the cost. You will be missed but we rejoice with you as you begin eternal life. You will always live in our memories and spirit. Enjoy eternity with Jesus.

  3. Rev. James Flynn

    What a woman dedicated to her sisters and brothers in Guatemala as well as those with whom she shared so much pain as victims. She still is a model dedication to a cause for all of us. She rests in peace, but we don’t rest till peace arrives. With her spirit it will be so.

  4. Patrick Weber

    Sister Dianna, you are a model of selfless love and discipleship that all of us should emulate. Your legacy of love for the poor, peacemaking, and service to neighbor, regardless of who they are will always live on. Rest In Peace Sister Dianna. Pray for Us.

  5. Claire McGowan OP

    I am so sorry to read of Dianna’s death. Thank you Ursuline community for your consistent love and support for her, and thank you, Dianna, for your stunning witness to courage and love! May we dare to carry on your spirit!

  6. Maree Oneill

    The Holy Spirit worked through Sr. Dianna Ortiz. I feel her Spirit will continue. May she rest in peace with Jesus. My prayers and condolences to the Ursuline Sisters, her family and friends.

  7. Thomas Ehrlich Reifer

    I hadn’t spoken with Dianna for many years and thus was shocked to find of her passing, into the world of the angels, where she belongs. I came to know Sister Dianna, as I experienced torture, not as defined by the UN Convention, but after being abandoned by my parents who were heroin addicts at 18 months old, and growing up with ever present apocalyptic violence thereafter until I ran away from home at 13 years old. Somehow, though I never graduated from high school, I now teach at the University of San Diego, and when the law school invited the torture lawyer John Yoo to campus as I was going through my long recovery, I was in contact with Sister Dianna, then head of TASCC, and she helped up with our Torture Abolition Month. Most importantly though, talking to me, and reading her memoir, the most powerful I ever read, I realized that my feelings, experiencing and coping strategies mirrored other survivors, including Sister Dianna, as I read in her memoir and spoke to her about and heard her affirming words. Sister Dianna accepted me, and expressed her support and understanding and thus, changed and indeed saved my life, along with many friends. I will always love her and treasure her memory and example. Namaste. Tom Reifer (Dr. Thomas Ehrlich Reifer, Professor, Sociology, University of San Diego; Associate Fellow, Transnational Institute)

  8. Genaro Flores

    After reading her suffering in my country, my heart was broken and my eyes full tears for what she went throuhg. Hopping that she will be rewarded acordind to her feith. Rest in Peace.

  9. Jane Deren

    Sr. Dianna was intelligent, loving, spiritual, compassionate–it was an honor and a blessing to have worked with her at the Education for Justice project at the Center of Concern. I have happy memories of work and of friendship with her; while the darkness engulfed her at times, she always turned to the Light and moved forward to work for peace and justice. Rest in peace and love, dear Dianna.

  10. Emilie Smith

    Giving thanks for the life of this exemplary and courageous woman. Thank you, Hermana, for all that you have done for the Reign of Justice on Earth.

  11. LadyV

    Thank you for your Human Rights work Sister Dianna. I will never forget meeting you in the 1990’s and your willingness to summon courage and speak your painful truth again and again. You were a living angel and now your human rights work will be amplified by your ascent into the cosmos. Your work for justice and equity continues here on Earth. Thank you for the model of integrity and honesty you have left us. Paz y justicia para todos. Gracias Dianna por tu Valentina y trabajo sagardo.

  12. Maria Cordova-Salinas

    Querida Hermana Diana, el mundo ha perdido un ser muy valioso y valiente.
    Gracias por haber tocado nuestras vidas y tantas otras. Descansa en Paz hermanita.

  13. Mary Danhauer

    Dianna, I have much to learn from your life and your death. Thank you for leaving me a legacy to try to live up to. Grateful for your presence in my life.

  14. Elise García, OP

    My condolences to all who loved and worked with Sister Dianna, with great gratitude for the courageous witness she gave with her life as a tireless advocate against state-sponsored torture and in support of justice and peace. May she rest In peace — and may her Ursuline community, Pax Christi companions, family and friends, all know our deep gratitude and be comforted by God’s love.

  15. Sister Kathleen (Kathy) Neely, OSU

    Thank you, loving God, for receiving Dianna into your Kingdom. Thank you, Dianna, for your testimony of love and service to God’s people.

  16. Deacon Steve Kaneb

    I have never had another friend who so remarkably picked up their cross daily. May we follow Dianna’s example through love of neighbor and vulnerability.

  17. Pat Farrell

    My experience with Dianna in Central America, her gentle and deeply resilient spirit, has marked my own life forever. She has been a model of integrity and courage within such vulnerability. I carry her memory within—a treasure and great source of strength.
    Pat Farrell, OSF

  18. Jean Ann Ledwell, osu

    With heartfelt sympathy to you all dear Sisters at Maple Mount and to all Diana’s family, friends and colleagues.
    I sent a note to Sandy S with whom I still keep in touch from far away Atlantic Canada!
    Blessings of peace!
    Jean Ann Ledwell osu ( Chatham Union)

  19. Dilkhwaz

    Rest in preface Sr.Dianna, you’ll be missed by everyone.
    رحمك الله ويجعل مثواك الجنه الابديه 🌸🌺

  20. Eleanor Gleeson

    Dianna, I never meet you, but I have followed you and prayed for you ever since I first heard of you capture and torture in Guatamelo. Thank you for the witness you have borne and the organizations to advocate and assist victims and survivors of evil.
    May the joy of eternity be yours.
    Glory to God.

  21. Gisele

    RIP Sr. Dianna Ortiz.She was an extraordinary sister and she gave her life helping others God just gained a beautiful Angel in Heaven I will never forget her she was amazing 🕊🕊🕊🕊🕊🕊

  22. Nelson Garner

    Dear Sister, l did not know you personally but when your tragic events happened it inspired me 30 years ago to compose a moving poem ” DUST IN HEAVEN ” that includes the words of those that tortured you : ” Where is your God now ? “. It will be my utmost honor to present my poem to a member of your family.

  23. Doreen Smith

    Thank you Sister Dianna for your inspirational life. A life nurtured by Gospel values. A peacemaker of our times. Rest in peace

  24. Maria Cordova-Salinas

    I would love to see the poem inspired by Sr Diana. (Where is you God now) In her presence I felt a powerful feeling of peace. She was an angel loaned to us to show us the way.

  25. John L Heagle

    Dear Sister Dianna,
    You have walked the Way of Jesus with such love and prophetic courage. I join all your sisters and brothers in the desire–and ongoing commitment–to follow that same path of peacemaking and restorative justice that has been your life. Carry us all in your heart, as you are now in the loving heart of God.

  26. Jane Finnerty, OSU

    My prayers are with my Ursuline Sisters of Maple Mount as they mourn the passing of Sr. Dianna. When I was living in D.C., Dianna was keeping vigil and praying outside the White House hoping that justice would be done. What an extraordinary daughter of Angela. May she rest in peace.
    Jane Finnerty, OSU (Roman Union East)

  27. Phyllis Kemper, OSU

    Diana’s advocacy for torture survivors was witnessing the Gospel’s
    call to justice despite the cost. My prayers for Diana and all who loved her. May Diana rest in the peace of God’s loving care.

  28. Marie Dennis

    As a member of Assisi Community in Washington DC for over 25 years, Dianna brought courage, compassion and beauty into our lives every day. Her long struggle to survive the effects of torture taught us painful lessons about the horrific, long-term impact of violence, but also about resilience and hope. Her commitment to human rights and social justice encouraged countless survivors of torture and inspired her vast circle of friends and followers. God is mercy, she taught us in her last days. Thank you, dear friend. Sister Dianna Ortiz, Presenté!

  29. Sr Beverly Anne LoGrasso

    I recall meeting Diana during her hunger strike in Lafayette Park, Washington DC. Also, she met with the First Lady Hillary Clinton. She is an example of Ursuline women who are in the tradition of Angela, Ursula, and Dorothy Kazel, who have the courage of solidarity with the suffering. May Angela, Ursula and the Central American martyrs greet her!
    martyrs greet her…Presente!

  30. Sr. Virginia DeVinne

    Please know of my prayers for Dianna as she rests in peace. My sympathy to her family and all the sisters in her Ursuline community on her death. I give thanks for her ministry that had such an impact on others. Her witness to the hope of healing from trauma speaks to so many others.

  31. Victoria S. Schmidt

    When I heard of the passing of Sr. Dianna my heart was deeply saddened. I felt that she had somehow been robbed of her life among us. That she had worked so hard to heal on move forward with her life only for it to end this way. Perhaps it is God’s way of saying you have suffered enough – come be with me now.
    I send my deepest sympathy to the Ursuline Sisters in Owensboro, Dianna’s family, her hundreds of friends and colleagues who walked with her through her ‘dark night of the soul.’ May she RIP no longer burdened by the trauma she suffered. And may we follow in her footsteps to be the peace and strength for others that Dianna dedicated her life to serving

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