Valerie Ortiz’s faith was born when she was a child.

Her mother, María Agripina, and her grandmother, Alicia Álvarez, always dressed her as the Christmas angel.

“My grandmother always taught us to pray,” said the 24-year-old, who will travel to Mexico to join the Poor Clare Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

Mother María Inés Teresa Arias founded the religious congregation on Aug. 23, 1945, in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Their motto is “He must reign.”

Ortiz was 6 years old when her grandmother passed away, but the seed of prayer and love germinated in her heart.

Born in Orange, the daughter of María Agripina and Jesús Ortiz — originally from Mexico City — served as an altar server at Holy Family parish from the ages of 8 to 17.

“I prayed with my mother, and I knew that we had to go to Mass on Sundays, but I do not think I had a direct relationship with God — and even less in high school!” she emphasized.

However, Valerie had friends who devoted themselves to prayer. One of them, Rodrigo Corona, told her everything they did in the La Purisima parish youth group in Orange. She met the coordinator, Valeria Tovar, and said to herself, “This is where I belong!”

“I began to visit the Blessed Sacrament and felt the desire to offer my life to God as a religious sister,” she said. “It was a nice feeling, although I didn’t really understand it, but I accepted it with all my heart.”

Upon returning home, she relayed the experience to her mother, who started to cry.

“It’s okay,” her mother told her. “If God wants it, then that is how it will be.”

Ortiz did not know what to do. The pandemic occurred, and her relationship with God was severed. She stopped going to Mass and no longer prayed, but that mystical experience did not leave her at peace.

That desire bothered her.

“What is this idea of giving my life to God?” she asked herself. “I did not want to anymore, and I tried with all my might not to think about it,” she said. “Avoiding it was a struggle. I was fighting against God because I wanted to make my life. I wanted to get married, have my children and have a career… but I was always uncomfortable, undecided about what I wanted to do, but I also knew that I didn’t want to say yes to God.”

Valerie’s doubts ended after she graduated from high school.

“I was fighting for three or four years, and God won,” she said. “I was fighting against the will of God, and I got tired,” she admitted. “One cannot fight against God. He is not going to lose. He gets what He wants from us.”

Valerie realized that her work friends were further distancing her from God. They were mundane, but her grandmother’s teachings also called for her to return to her Christian values and morality.

Finally, she said to God: “I like my job, but people are taking me away from You. So, I will leave my job without a plan, and I do not know what will happen, but you will guide me.”

Valerie had been unemployed for three months and one day, before Christmas 2022, she decided to live the new year as if it were the last year of her life.

From then on, Valerie asked herself: “How many years of my life am I going to give to the Lord? “As many as I have left!”

During the process, she slowly broke away from her ties. At the end of Lent 2023, she completely surrendered to the Lord.

“I told the Lord, OK, since you want me to be a religious sister, I say yes! But you must tell me where because there are many communities out there. And it has already been difficult for me to say yes to You, so help me.”

Days later, she visited the cinema with friends to see the St. Joseph documentary, A Father’s Heart. At the time, she was working in the office of the permanent diaconate for the Diocese of Orange as a formation coordinator.

Upon arrival, she saw there were religious sisters in the row where she was supposed to sit, so Valerie decided to sit alone all the way in the back.

After the film, she talked with Sr. Maricela Valenzuela, a Poor Clare Missionary. Later, she was invited to their group called To Jesus through Mary to be with the congregation and discover her probable vocation. However, Valerie never mentioned that she wanted to be a religious sister to them. After the fourth month of going with the sisters, with fear and tears in her eyes, she spoke to Sr. Maricela about the desires of her heart.

“Sr. Maricela also cried with joy and, with so much peace, at that moment I felt like the wall I had built between God, and I had collapsed forever,” she emphasized.

Valerie says that God chose her to have a beautiful life as a religious sister.

“Only because of His mercy can I say that despite so many years of fighting against Him, God won the battle.”

At the end of April, Valerie went to live out her postulancy in the congregation’s house in Santa Ana, and, depending on how things go, she will be sent to Cuernavaca, Mexico to fulfill her novitiate.

From OC Catholic