Earlier this morning, Dianna Ortiz, OSU, our friend and colleague, passed away after a short illness. 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.
Many of us in the Pax Christi world first met or learned of Dianna in the 1990s when, with grace and perseverance, she pushed the U.S. government to tell the truth about the kidnapping and torture she suffered in Guatemala in November 1989. Dianna drew on her own excruciating experience to create the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC), which provides tools and assistance for torture survivors to advocate for themselves, to raise awareness of the ongoing use of torture around the world and to change laws and customs. She served as TASSC’s executive director for several years.
Dianna was a part of the Pax Christi family for many years. She received the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace award in 2000, and then served as program director and internship program coordinator from 2009-2012. She returned to the staff as deputy director almost one year ago.
More information will be shared in coming days. For now, we ask for prayers for the Pax Christi family, for Dianna’s Ursuline community in Kentucky, for the Assisi community in Washington, D.C. where Dianna has lived since the 1990s, and for her mother, siblings, nieces and nephews.
Dianna Ortiz, presente!
More on Dianna:
- Dianna’s community, the Ursuline Sisters of Mt. St. Joseph, has posted this obituary of her.
- TASSC, the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition which Dianna founded has a memorial page set up for her here. Read TASSC’s statement here on their homepage.
- Read this column from Fr. Joe Nangle, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace and Dianna’s friend and community member, about Dianna’s last days. On the one-week anniversary of Di’s passing, Fr. Joe Nangle followed his first column with this one on pledging to continue Dianna’s work.
- See photos of Dianna, links to more information about her life, interviews and more at this link.
- Dianna’s obituary in The Washington Post can be read here.