For almost two years by the southernmost tip of Texas across the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, thousands of vulnerable women, men, and children lived in a makeshift “tent city” while awaiting rulings on their applications for asylum in the United States. These families slept in donated tents at the mercy of extreme weather conditions where temperatures could rise above 100 degrees, and when it rained, the downpours knocked down their only refuge and left them in the midst of mud pits. Imagine living in such uncertainty, where you would have to depend on outside organizations for food and water, where you had to cook over a campfire daily.
For some in our nation it was easy to turn a blind eye, as these families were not within their view. But how could we not cross the bridge to reach out to them? How could we not respond to God’s call to love, to be present to that Christ who is before us?
Bishop Daniel E. Flores from our Diocese of Brownsville reminds us often, “Caminamos juntos o no vamos a llegar.” We walk together or we are not going to arrive.
We lived a daily grace as we accompanied these families and did what we could to provide hope in the form of a hug, a smile, a meal, a place to rest their heads; we witnessed also their resilience and the gift of our faith alive in actions. In today’s reading we hear the Lord say, “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.”
There will be struggles and there will be joys. After two years of waiting, we witnessed a triumphant moment when these families were finally allowed to cross into the United States. We were grateful that we could be God’s presence to them, that we could walk with them in solidarity. We could only do this by following the one who calls us.
As I accompanied them and crossed the bridge together, I looked back to where they had been waiting, it was as if there was a blanket of grace over the camp. God’s hand had brought a gentle presence of loving care to them because of those who followed Him.
Don’t be afraid to wake up early and ask God, “Where do you want me to follow you today?”
And to respond, “I’m ready. ¡Aqui estoy!”
- Where do you hear God’s voice? Where are you being called to follow the one who calls you?
- What bridges must you cross to respond to God’s love?
As Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, Sister Norma Pimentel oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, providing oversight of various programs: emergency assistance, clinical counseling, housing assistance, pregnancy care and military assistance. In the summer of 2014 she organized the community resources responding to the surge of refugees seeking asylum in the United States. The Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, TX and its countless volunteers from the around the country have welcomed more than 71,000 individuals from 31 countries. Sister Norma Pimentel earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and graduate degrees in theology and counseling psychology.
Como Directora Ejecutiva de las Caridades Católicas del Valle del Río Grande, la Hermana Norma Pimentel supervisa el brazo caritativo de la Diócesis de Brownsville, supervisando varios programas: asistencia de emergencia, consejería clínica, asistencia en vivienda, atención de embarazo y asistencia militar. En el verano de 2014 organizó los recursos comunitarios que respondían a la oleada de refugiados que buscaban asilo en los Estados Unidos. “The Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen” en McAllen, TX y sus innumerables voluntarios de todo el país han recibido a más de 71,000 personas de 31 países. La hermana Norma Pimentel obtuvo una licenciatura en artes y postgrados en psicología y teología.