Diana's Story

The Story of Diana Thirion and the beginning of Casa Jacinta y Francisco

I was born in the United States. My parents’ marriage lasted a year and at the age of three, my mother met a young man who was completing his postgraduate studies at George Washington Hospital in Washington, DC. The young man was a native of Nicaragua. They fell in love and we all moved to Nicaragua in 1953. I was raised in Nicaragua and lived there for twenty years.

In December of 1966, at the age of sixteen, I married Ismael Reyes, a young man from Nicaragua. On August 31, 1967, at the age of seventeen, I had my first child, Ismael Jr. who was born with brain damage and a blood disease called toxoplasmosis. Ismael Jr. would have convulsions daily and suffered tremendously. This beautiful child lived for five years.

On September 11, 1969, Ismael and I had a beautiful, healthy daughter named Dianita. During the next few years there was much emotional and physical stress to our young marriage. Finally, Ismael and I separated in 1971. Young Ismael was very ill but was able to survive in bed for five years until he died August 15, 1972 from complications of the illness.

After Ismael Jr. died, Ismael and I divorced, and a move to the United States was the best decision at that time, since living in a Central American country, as a divorced woman was very controversial. My ex-husband, Ismael, then stated that if I left Nicaragua, I would have to leave my daughter, Dianita, behind with him. Not being able to remain in Nicaragua because of the conditions, I moved to Miami, Florida and became an airline stewardess for Lanica Airlines in order that I could see my daughter three days a week.

I remarried in 1978 to a wonderful man, Jerry Thirion. Our dream was to bring Dianita to the United States to live with us.

Unfortunately, the Sandista Revolution started in 1978. Since my ex-husband, Ismael was a very wealthy man, our daughter Dianita, was taken hostage by the Sandinistas as they were stealing monies from private families to purchase ammunitions. Dianita was nearly killed. She was released and Ismael called me to come and get Dianita out of the country. I flew to Nicaragua, under machine guns and bombs, to rescue my daughter. We met for four hours with the American Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua. After negotiations, my daughter and I left the country on the very last flight out during the Sandinista War.

When I left Nicaragua, my escape from the country was not the end of my troubles. Years later I suffered a nervous breakdown, resulting in tremendous anxiety, depression and pains in my body and my mind was constantly racing.It felt like I was in a deep hole. I did not want to live and “it was hell”. All of this lasted a very long six and a half years. In fact, I tried to take my life and ended up in the emergency room. My personal healing started when I began attending daily mass at St. William parish in Naples, Florida. I found peace as I prayed the rosary every day and participated in healing services with the support of all the beautiful and loving friends and the priests I met at church. Asking for healing, I prayed that God would heal me and use me as an instrument of peace. “I just wanted peace of mind and heart.” During my illness, I had a desire to make a pilgrimage to the Grotto of the Blessed Mother in Lourdes, France, to whom I was very devoted. I was so ill; the long trip to Europe was not possible. Part of my healing was spending time viewing a daily Catholic television program on E.W.T.N..

One evening upon watching this very inspirational show, Mother Angelica had a guest speaker, Father Eduard Perrone, the pastor of this beautiful church, Assumption Grotto, in Detroit, Michigan. He was speaking about the celebration of Assumption Day. I then decided to go there and pray for healing. During that time, a friend of mine, Robby Brown, was just diagnosed with lung cancer. We then traveled to the Grotto together for God’s will in our healing. We prayed to the Blessed Mother for our Intercession. On August 15, 1996, on the assumption of the Blessed Mother, we were healed by God through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. When Robby returned, her X-rays showed no more lung cancer and I had a peace that I had never felt before. Today, with the grace of God, I have helped transform a place formerly used as a prison in Nicaragua into a place of healing for many, many children.

In 1998, I started raising funds to renovate a former prison into a school and orphanage for more than 150 children. This home has 39 interns (children who live in the orphanage) and 150 externs (children who have been abused, children of the street, orphans) in Leon, Nicaragua. So much has been accomplished. The foundation is a tax deductible organization called Casa Jacinta y Francisco, which is also a mission of St. William Catholic Church.

In 1998, the orphanage was painted. These prison walls contained images of Nicaraguan Sandinistas with machetes and machine guns killing others and the military and the words written, “history is written with blood”.

In gratitude, I have given my life to God and felt the call to raise money to assist people in Nicaragua. I started by going door-to-door in Naples asking for help, because at that time Hurricane Mitch had devastated Nicaragua.

Surrounded by these children, I felt that I had found the place God called me to serve.

These recent horrific disasters that have occurred in the United States were caused by evil, barbaric terrorists that have infiltrated countries throughout the world. The evil of the civil war in Nicaragua has caused similar pain to the Nicaraguan children and through our efforts, love and support, we will combat this with love and some day make this world a better place.

We need to get these beautiful children off of the streets and with love bring them closer to God and into schools where they can learn good values. We are so blessed in our own lives and reaching out to these children is thanking God for our blessings. These children are the hope of Nicaragua. There is a need for people to be aware of the needs of young people, since they are the future leaders of our world.