The 100 Most Influential People of 2020
Valerie Chiang
By Julián Castro
September 22, 2020 9:34 PM EDT

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” These words from Matthew form the foundation of both the Catholic principle of faith through works and the life’s mission of Sister Norma Pimentel.

Sister Pimentel has been on the front lines of mercy for three decades, supporting migrants who are seeking refuge in the U.S. along Texas’ border with Mexico. As executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, she directs efforts to provide shelter, food, sanctuary and comfort to people often treated as less than human. Her organization has housed and assisted well over 100,000 people at the border.

Her work has taken on greater importance in the era of Donald Trump, and for good reason. As he has acted with cruelty toward migrants, she has acted with compassion. As he has preyed on the vulnerable and sought rejection, she has preached community and acceptance. As he has promoted fear, she has taught love.

Her boundless hope and fearless compassion have earned her the moniker of “the Pope’s favorite nun.” Sister Pimentel will keep changing the world, one act of kindness at a time.

Castro is a former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

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