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Pope to Sister Norma: ‘I love you!’

Juan Torres  |  Issue: October | November 2015

He singles out Texas nun to thank for ministering to immigrants

In the spirit of solidarity in respect of human rights for immigrant families, Pope Francis made a virtual visit via satellite to three American cities — Los Angeles, Chicago, and McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas.

In McAllen, he singled out Sister Norma Pimental representing the humanitarian respite center for immigrant families at the Sacred Heart Church. “I love you,” he said, thanking her for ministering to immigrants along the border — whom she treats as her own children.

The crowd gathered there consisted of invited guests and dignitaries as well as volunteers. They applauded the pope’s message of respect for the dignity of immigrant families and that the quest for a better life should be an accepted human right the same as the quest for water.

The respite center is composed of three full-size tents with air conditioning, and it includes a tent for bathing and hygiene.  A small trailer is set up for volunteer nurses and doctors. The purpose of the center is to assist immigrant families newly released from local detention centers in their trip to their reunite with their families.

The Border Patrol has been forced to speed the release of the families after a victory in the courts made it illegal to detain families of women and children in those conditions and forced it to release them to their families in America.

The expected surge will not be the same as last year’s massive immigrant surge from Central America, but the need still adds a drain to the resources that the sanctuary can give, since the center has relied on donations.

The center has already assisted more than 25,000, but it just keeps on working. When the immigrant families arrive, all volunteers cheer and welcome the families to America. They are directed to receive baths, a change of clothes, and then for soup and sandwiches — a light meal due to the delicate state of their stomachs.

Then they are instructed on the details of each family’s trip destinations and where to change buses. A free phone is set up so they can call their families and tell them the travel times. Medical help is available for anyone with a cold or bad stomach, and a legal aide is to there explain the court appearance of each family

Inside this place, all political connotations disappear, and all you see is human beings helping out other human beings in dire need — folks from different denominations and organizations, all giving a hand.

Hurrah for heroines such as Sister Norma Pimental for setting the example that we cannot turn our backs on our fellow immigrant working-class brothers and sisters. Remember, they are our children also.

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