Sisters of the Holy Cross » Fruits of Holy Cross » My first year as a sister

My first year as a sister

by Sister Nieves Lidia Ortiz Galván, CSC

Responding to the call 

My name is Nieves Lidia Ortiz Galván. I am from Veracruz, Mexico. I got to know Holy Cross by the Providence of God. I had no interest in being a sister, but God always has plans for everyone. 

After my mom was hospitalized for three months, I felt the longing to serve others. I asked a friend about religious life. He gave me a long list of names of religious congregations, but by providence, I was called to the Sisters of the Holy Cross to be a missionary. My friend put me in contact with the sisters, with whom I communicated through Facebook for more than a year. I was invited to visit them in Monterrey, Mexico. I told my parents I was going only for three months because I thought I wouldn’t like it or the sisters wouldn’t allow me to join them. So my parents were still waiting for me to go back.

Novitiate a time of learning, patience and humility

During my novitiate, I deepened my relationship with God. I grew in all aspects: emotional, spiritual, intellectual and, above all, with the full assurance that in those two years outside the known, and my comfort zone, God always showed me his face and love. 

I had the joy of doing ministry at St. Adalbert Catholic School in South Bend, Indiana, where I helped with religion classes in Spanish and English. I confess that the children taught me more than I taught them! I also had the joy of going to Utah, where I did ministry at Holy Cross Ministries and Peace House. In each ministry I discovered that learning requires patience and humility. These are qualities that the experiences have transformed within me.

Each day was always different. Some days were easier than others. The opportunity to meet other people from other countries, cultures and languages has been a gift.

Being with people in their pain

But it was also eye-opening to meet people with very painful experiences. There are people who live in fear and are slaves to themselves. In those moments, I learned to listen, realizing that I had no words to console them. They only wanted to be heard. Through this experience I understood that being a Holy Cross sister is not about giving more, but about being present. To just be. 

Fruits of Holy Cross series from the Sisters of the Holy Cross

Fruits of Holy Cross

Every month, Fruits of Holy Cross shares the good news of the ministries of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Our “fruits” are nourished not just by the sisters’ labors or the seed of faith planted by our founder Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, they are watered by our many prayer partners, donors and benefactors—by you.

Returning to Mexico and walking with the people

After professing vows, I returned to Monterrey, Mexico, to live in a community with three sisters. Some of my ministries are to accompany and help immigrants in two refugee shelters. One of the things I do is talk to people and use my artistic skills as I invite them to draw or paint their hopes, joys or sorrows, similar to art therapy. 

I also work in Family Rosary, which is under Holy Cross Family Ministries. In this ministry, I listen and I help the team in their work of evangelization.  What I enjoy the most is visiting parishes to promote the devotion of praying the rosary with families. 

I love my ministries because in each one God is teaching me to be a better human being and to be a better sister. In these works, I grow in compassion and in my ability to respond to the signs of the times. I love talking about and sharing with others the love of God. Most of the people I speak to do not have much, no big house, no extra money. As a sister I want to walk and be with those who are poor, for they are the faces of God. 

Most of them want to be happy with their family and to make sure they are safe and secure. Some of them do not need much, only their families and friends. In them I see God’s love. 

The poor teach me to be compassionate, to be strong and to continue growing in my zeal to serve others.

“I understood that being a Holy Cross sister is not about giving more, but about being present. To just be.”   — Sister Nieves

“I understood that being a Holy Cross sister is not about giving more, but about being present. To just be.”   — Sister Nieves

Pandemic presents unexpected challenges

The pandemic has been a challenge because I had to stop serving the refugees and the people in Family Rosary. The first days were very hard. I felt that I was being very selfish to think about myself and my needs. I felt that I had abandoned my brothers and sisters in need. Many times I thought there was no point in being a religious sister if I was not at the service of others. I did not profess vows to abandon them, but I made my vows to walk and inspire God's people to continue loving and believing. 

For days I felt that I was lying to God and Father Moreau, but with the help of prayer, community and spiritual direction my soul was strengthened. And we began to cook taquitos to take to the immigrants who are outside the migrant house, so this was quite uplifting. 

The ministry experiences that I had during my novitiate have helped me to not give up, to find new ways to do things, and to deepen my faith. I learned a lot about myself, about my faith, the Church, the Congregation, spirituality and diversity.

I hope and dream that the people we are working with find the happiness they are looking for, that they may enjoy life, and above all that they will open their hearts to love themselves and their neighbor. God knows the plans for us and will teach us on our way. I will quote my favorite passage, Jeremiah 29:11:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Thank You

Help Sister Nieves and her sisters advance their ministries in Mexico by supporting the Mexico mission. To contribute to the Mexico mission or any other fund of the Congregation, please donate now. Please select “Mexico Mission” under “My gift is for.”