STANDING toe-to-toe with United States President Donald Trump over the Mexico-US border policy launched Sister Norma Pimentel into the public spotlight last year.
This year, Sr Pimentel was named among TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people, which was released today.
Sr Pimentel, who is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus and executive director of the Catholic Charities of Rio Grande Valley, has fed, clothed and housed more than 125,000 immigrants crossing the Texan border.
She has won a number of awards, including the University of Notre Dame’s prestigious Laetare Medal, Catholic Charities USA’s Keep the Dream Alive award and the Sr Margaret Cafferty Development of Peoples Award from the Campaign for Human Development, presented during the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington.
Prayer was what held it all together for Sr Pimentel.
“My prayer life, it’s key for who I am today and what I do,” Sr Pimentel said. “If I didn’t make the time to wake up early in the morning to go to Mass and do my prayers and end with my prayers at night, I think I would get lost in all of this. It would be all about me and all the sensational attention that is given to me.”
Not only are Latin American immigrants arriving in McAllen in big numbers, so too are the American immigrants making their way to south Texas to assist in Sr Pimentel’s ministry however they can.
“For me, when I see people that come from different parts of the United States to volunteer, pretty much to learn and see what’s happening and to be part of that response, they’re 100 per cent self-giving to be there to help the immigrants,” Sr Pimentel said, holding out special praise for the many retired religious sisters who come in pairs and stay for two weeks to help.
“You see in their faces, the joy of helping, the joy of being able to care for the families, whether it’s cleaning a toilet, washing the towels, making sandwiches.
“You see in them ‘con gusto’, with great … happiness. They’re not getting paid, they’re doing it out of their own enthusiasm to do something good. You see it in their faces.
“Their engagement and their involvement becomes so alive and you know that God is present in their life.
“That comes from a sense of awareness of God in them through that expression in them of what they’re doing.”