University announces Sister Norma Pimentel as 2018 Laetare Medal recipient
Observer Staff Report | Friday, May 18, 2018
Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in the print edition of The Observer on March 20.
Notre Dame will award Sister Norma Pimentel — head of the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley — the 2018 Laetare Medal, the University announced in a press releaseSunday.
Each year, Notre Dame awards the Laetare Medal to an American Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”
According to the release, both of Pimentel’s parents immigrated from Mexico to the United States and she spent much of her childhood traveling between the two countries. After completing her final vows and entering the Missionaries of Jesus, she worked closely with immigrants, who were often brought to the sisters’ convent.
Pimentel said this experience shaped her understanding of her faith in concrete ways.
“Scripture comes to life and our faith becomes flesh,” she said in the release. “It is not until you find yourself in front of the face of the immigrant child or mother that you will understand this. It is a moment of realizing we are all one human family.”
Since 2008, Pimentel has directed charitable programs for the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, including “emergency food and shelter, housing assistance, clinical counseling and pregnancy care to all four counties in the Rio Grande Valley.”
University President Fr. John Jenkins said Pimentel has lived out the call to recognize Christ in the marginalized through her work with refugees and migrants.
“Jesus said, ‘when I was a stranger, you invited me in.’ Sister Norma Pimentel has given her life to welcoming Christ in the immigrant and refugee,” Jenkins said in the release. “In awarding her the Laetare Medal, Notre Dame celebrates her witness of seeking and generously serving Christ in the most vulnerable.”
Pimentel said in the release that she was grateful to receive the 2018 Laetare Medal.
“I am truly honored to receive this award,” she said. “This year’s Laetare Medal brings forth the cries of the suffering for the world to hear. I would like to thank the University of Notre Dame for this recognition and for being a voice for immigrants in our midst.”
Pimentel will be awarded the medal on May 20 at commencement.