By Berta Mexidor
VARDAMAN/TUPELO – Each January, the Vardaman Catholic Charities office conducts activities for National Migration Week in coordination with pastoral leaders of deanery V in the diocese. This year’s theme was “Promoting a Church and World for All” and included a keynote speaker known for her humanitarian service to immigrants along the Texas border – Sister Norma Pimentel.
As the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande in Brownsville, Texas, Sister Pimentel helped start the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas as a response to the surge of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States. She was named as Catholic of the Year in 2015 by Our Sunday Visitor, has been seen on 20/20 and received the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame University, the highest and oldest award given to U.S. Catholics.
During the National Migration Week, Sister Pimentel delivered lectures in Vardaman and Tupelo and impressed many with her quiet strength.
Retired professor, Robert Stewart, chairman of the board of advisors of Catholic Charities in Vardaman was impressed by the extent and magnitude of Sister Pimentel’s work.
“I was impressed with her concern both for those weary and frightened people seeking asylum in the United States, as well as, the various government officials including agents of ICE and the Border Patrol. She understands that all involved pay an emotional toll. No less impressive is her concern for the dignity of all concerned,” said Stewart.
Danna Johnson, coordinator of Catholic Charities Vardaman and the Hispanic ministry at St. Christopher Pontotoc, who helped organize events that included a Mass celebrated with Bishop Joseph Kopacz, said that part of the reason for the events are an “effort to call all Catholics and people of goodwill to have a better understanding and appreciation of this important issue that affects us all.”