Photo credit: Barbara Johnston, University of Notre Dame
CCF is thrilled to have Sister Norma Pimentel, M.J., join our April 9 Giving Insights forum exploring the Catholic response to the influx of immigrants and refugees. Sister Norma will give a keynote address and take part in the panel discussion.
Sister Norma has served for more than 12 years as executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley (CCRGV). Nestled in the southern tip of Texas, the organization provides a wide range of services to the four-county region and its rapidly growing population. While their programs are numerous, it’s the Humanitarian Respite Center that has been drawing attention to CCRGV and Sister Norma in the last few years.
When a surge of immigrants arrived from Central America in 2014, Sister Norma saw the McAllen, TX, bus depot filled with weary, dirty, and hungry families. She asked nearby Sacred Heart Church if she could borrow its parish hall. There, Sister Norma welcomed families and offered them hot soup, a change of clothes, bus tickets, and snacks for the road. “The families walk in and they’re amazed,” says Sister Norma. “Sometimes with tears on their face because of the joy they see of being welcome.”
The Humanitarian Respite Center now operates out of a storefront with plans to construct a permanent building that will serve as a beacon of hope. The center has served more than 100,000 immigrants to date, aiding as many as 300 people each day.
Sister Norma’s tireless efforts to restore the human dignity of immigrants and asylum seekers have earned her Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, the Hispanic Heritage Award for Service, and even recognition from Pope Francis. In a televised virtual meeting, he thanked Sister Norma for her service, earning her the title “the Pope’s favorite nun.”
Click here for Giving Insights details and registration.