First-Hand Report of Humanitarian Crisis at the Border


When it comes to welcoming the stranger, Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ, has what you’d call authority.

Sister Norma is executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, and is serving on the frontlines of the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding on the border. Pope Francis has recognized her by name for her work, and she met with President Trump in a roundtable discussion when he visited the border in Texas. 

If there’s a Catholic in this country you should turn to in order to learn about the conditions immigrants face, it’s her. 

Sister Norma sat down with Grotto to introduce herself and share some of her experience meeting and serving immigrants. Here, she also shares encouragement for us to take the issue to heart and translate our compassion into action. (Catholic Charities always welcomes donations — they even have an Amazon wish list.)

Grotto recently shared a reflection on the photo of the father and daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande river on their way to seek asylum in the U.S. Sister Norma told Grotto that she works with volunteers who served that family before they decided to cross. 

“So the question is: What is your response?” she says. “What is it that you feel maybe you’re called to do? I know that I feel my God calls me to be there for others, those that need my help, those that are suffering.

“I think that you may have something that you can do, and you can give, and you can be — whether that is where you are, with the people around you, or whether it is at the border, or anywhere else where you may feel this sense of responsibility to life, to humanity, to make a difference.”

At one point in her life, Sister Norma had her mind set on a career as a professional artist. But she’s learned to follow the voice of God as it unfolds in her life. “It has been an interesting journey of discovery and living out my faith and growing in my faith as I move forward,” she told The Jesuit Post. “I allow God to guide me in what I do and who I am.”

In 2018, Sister Norma was awarded the Laetare Medal, the highest honor in the nation for Catholics.  “Scripture comes to life and our faith becomes flesh,” she said when she received that honor. “It is not until you find yourself in front of the face of the immigrant child or mother that you will understand this. It is a moment of realizing we are all one human family.”

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