Missionaries of Jesus Sister Norma Pimentel greets Sister Teresa Maya, a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, after Sister Pimentel received the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Outstanding Leadership Award Aug. 16 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Sister Norma will be visiting the Diocese of Trenton Nov. 15.  CNS photo/Gail DeGeorge, Global Sister Report
Missionaries of Jesus Sister Norma Pimentel greets Sister Teresa Maya, a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, after Sister Pimentel received the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Outstanding Leadership Award Aug. 16 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Sister Norma will be visiting the Diocese of Trenton Nov. 15. CNS photo/Gail DeGeorge, Global Sister Report
" I’m really hoping what comes across during her visit is that the border issue is a humanitarian crisis, and that there are ways we can handle it with civility and dignity. "

As the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, Missionaries of Jesus Sister Norma Pimentel can see up to 800 migrants a day come into the respite center where she works along the U.S.-Mexico border.

It’s the people she meets and her experiences there that those from the Center for FaithJustice hopes will inspire others when Sister Norma visits the Diocese of Trenton Nov. 15.

“From our perspective, she is one of the leading female voices in the global Church right now,” said Stephanie Peddicord, president of the Lawrenceville-based Catholic service organization. “Here is someone who is a really vocal, outspoken proponent of a faith-based humanitarian response to what’s going on at the border.”

The event is being sponsored by the Magdalene Circle, a Center for FaithJustice faith-based women’s philanthropy launched in 2017 that gives grants to young adult service leaders. The event costs $100 and includes a sit-down lunch, remarks from Sister Norma and a question-and-answer period. Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite.com.

In the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, Sister Norma and her staff help migrants after they are released from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, often aiding them with the next leg of their journey, clothes and food.

“I’m really hoping what comes across during her visit is that the border issue is a humanitarian crisis, and that there are ways we can handle it with civility and dignity,” Peddicord said.

Peddicord herself has firsthand knowledge of the crisis at the border. In May, she was among four members of the Center for FaithJustice who traveled to the area to volunteer with Catholic Charities in McAllen, Texas.

“The conditions there are not for the faint of heart,” she said, explaining that the majority of volunteers she encountered along the border were elderly women religious.

“It’s extraordinary. You have these 80-plus-year-old sisters working in extreme heat, on their feet all day,” she said. “It’s emotionally draining, and you look at them and say, ‘How does your faith inspire you to respond in this way, and how, as a global Church, can we be responding?’”

Peddicord said she hopes those who attend the luncheon become more informed about the border crisis after hearing from Sister Norma, especially considering her background. Sister Norma was born in Brownsville and is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She has long history of advocating for immigrant families and children, and was recently awarded the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Outstanding Leadership Award.

In 2018, she received the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame. Dating back to 1883, the award is the American counterpart of the Golden Rose papal honor. Past recipients include Dorothy Day, Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille Helen Prejean and President John F. Kennedy.

“I want people to walk away with information,” Peddicord said of the luncheon. “I want people to walk away inspired.