“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” These words from Matthew form the foundation of both the Catholic principle of faith through works and the life’s mission of Sister Norma Pimentel.
Sister Pimentel has been on the front lines of mercy for three decades, supporting migrants who are seeking refuge in the U.S. along Texas’ border with Mexico. As executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, she directs efforts to provide shelter, food, sanctuary and comfort to people often treated as less than human. Her organization has housed and assisted well over 100,000 people at the border.
In a Sept. 22 Facebook post, Pimentel said she was “honored” to make the list, adding she believes her selection was made “as a recognition for the work we do here on the border, that of restoring human dignity to those in need.”
“It is a recognition of the generosity of the people of the Rio Grande Valley and from throughout the United States,” she said. “Together we recognize that we have a responsibility. We are a people of God, people driven by the presence of God in ourselves and in others.”
“When we see human suffering,” she continued, “we cannot turn our backs, we must respond. It is my hope that this recognition will bring more understanding and help people see more clearly what we can each do to respect all human life, especially the most vulnerable.”