By Devin Watkins
Sr. Norma Pimentel sent a letter to the Pope on 3 May, describing the work of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, which lies on the southern US border with Mexico.
In response, Pope Francis sent a video message to the Mexican-American religious sister, praising her work.
“Thank you for what you and your entire team are doing,” he said. “Thank you for welcoming and receiving these migrants who come in search of a better life. Some come to advance, while others are fleeing from true social hells.”
“Thank you, Sister,” repeated the Pope. “Thanks to your team.”
Welcoming Latin American migrants
He went on to affirm that migrants “must be welcomed, that is, they must be protected, accompanied, and integrated.”
“These four things,” said the Pope. “welcomed, protected, accompanied, and integrated.”
He added that the team of Catholic Charities on the southern border of Texas are helping people who are “asking for assistance to live with more dignity.”
“I accompany you from here,” concluded Pope Francis. “I pray for you and for all those whom you are accompanying through your work.”
While blessing Sr. Norma and her team the Pope asked them to pray for him.
Rest along the journey
Sr. Norma is a Missionary of Jesus nun and the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.
The Caritas Internationalis partner runs several programs near the US/Mexico border, including a Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas.
According to the organization’s website, the center “provides a place for the countless men, women, children, and infant refugees to rest, have a warm meal, a shower, and change into clean clothing, as well as receive medicine and other supplies, before continuing their journey.”
Over 23,000 people have been assisted since 2015, when the center opened up at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley also offers counseling services, an emergency assistance program, and a pregnancy counseling center, among other services.