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Students Interview Sr. Norma Pimentel on Immigration & Human Dignity

Students in Theology III had a chance to hear from and speak with Sr. Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, regarding immigration and human dignity. Four groups of juniors have chosen the topic of immigration as their Praxis project. While working on Praxis projects, a part of the Theology III curriculum, students develop research-based solutions to social injustices; they educate their peers about an issue of their choice and learn how to advocate for change.

Pimentel spoke to students about why immigrants choose to come to the United States: "It’s about people that have failed to respect life ... the teachings of the Church makes it very clear: it is our responsibility to uphold human dignity."

Lainey Crossett '24 is one member of an immigration-focused Praxis project. "Before interviewing Sr. Norma, I learned about what she has done to help those in the process of immigration. Upon interviewing her I was in awe of her dedication to her work and her passion for helping others," she said. "One quote of hers that resonated with me was 'We have a responsibility to do the best we can.' My project group and I reflected on that quote and shared it with our theology class. In doing so, we hoped that a desire to act would spark in them."

Pimentel also told students, “We must be able to open our hearts to welcome, to allow ourselves to encounter the other, especially those that are on the periphery, those that are marginalized, those that are left outside of the status quo.”

Groups had a chance to ask questions. Keller Reilly '24 - who also has focused her Praxis project on immigration - asked what high school students could do to help at the border.

Pimentel replied, "Caring is important because then you can voice that and let others know that you care." Doing so will help encourage others to act - donating items to refugees or even changing laws to be more "humane and respect the sanctity of life."

The shelter Pimentel helps to run, she told another group, focuses on "restoring human dignity. The fact that we care, the moment they walk through the doors, they are welcome."

"My biggest takeaway was the story she shared about her most powerful experience that she has had thus far in her workplace. She explained that while in a room with hundreds of immigrants, especially children, she saw them dirty and without showers and other basic necessities," shared Olivia Zullo '24. "They were scared for their lives and did not know where to turn next. Sr. Norma prayed with them and their faces lit up with tears. They kept saying 'God, help us.'"

"She is a completely selfless lady and the work that she does is so incredible," said Reilly.