Religious sister publicly thanked by Pope Francis to be part of immigration panel

| March 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
Sister Norma Pimentel

Sister Norma Pimentel

A sister from Texas who was publicly thanked by Pope Francis in 2015 for her immigration work will appear on a panel discussing immigration April 9 at Pax Christi in Eden Prairie.

Missionaries of Jesus Sister Norma Pimentel, director of Catholic Charities for the Rio Grande Valley since 2008 and founder in 2014 of its Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, will give a keynote address at the 6 p.m. forum sponsored by the Catholic Community Foundation of Minnesota.

The Giving Insights panel also will include Archbishop Bernard Hebda; Lesly Gonzalez-Barragan, a Latino outreach coordinator in Youth in Theology and Ministry at St. John’s University School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, Minnesota; and Robyn Meyer-Thompson, an attorney at the St. Paul-based Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

Jesuit Father Warren Sazama, pastor of St. Thomas More in St. Paul, will moderate the discussion.

The evening will focus on a Catholic response to immigrants and refugees and the impact shifts in U.S. immigration policy have on those involved, said Angela Dimler, the foundation’s communications director.

Gonzalez-Barragan will discuss Catholic social teaching and Meyer-Thompson will address the complex legal system immigrants navigate to remain in the United States.

Archbishop Hebda said he hopes to reflect on the U.S. bishops’ teaching on immigration and efforts to help immigrants.

Father Sazama said the foundation asked him to moderate and share his experience with setting up a sanctuary parish for immigrants.

After President Trump was elected in 2016, parishioners looked for ways to respond to a growing anti-immigrant environment and decided to set up a small apartment in the parish center for families finding their feet in the area, Father Sazama said. So far, the parish has helped at least three families from Mexico, Honduras and Mozambique, he said.

Sister Norma will share her experience of immigrants crossing the border, families being separated and efforts at reunification, Dingle said.

Four years ago during a virtual papal audience Pope Francis thanked Sister Pimentel and all religious sisters for their hard work in helping immigrants and refugees.

Last year, Sister Pimentel was awarded the University of Notre Dame prestigious Laetare Medal for her faith-filled, humanitarian work with immigrants.

Sister Pimentel wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post early this year inviting Trump during his January stumping for a border wall to the respite center she runs in McAllen. Trump did not make it to the respite center. And at a roundtable discussion about immigration and the border Sister Norma was not among those invited to comment.

She said she had hoped to tell Trump about the need for border security but also the need to help families fleeing violence in their home countries.

The Catholic Community Foundation, which manages investments of Catholic parishes, institutions, families and individuals and makes grants to Catholic and nonprofit causes, started its Giving Insights series in late 2017.

The forums are held about every three or four months at various sites around the archdiocese and are based on the foundation’s three mission areas: spiritual, educational and social. The next forum, on education, will be in June at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul.

The forums help the foundation share some of what it has learned about needs in the community and resources to meet those needs, Dimler said.

People can register for the immigration session at


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