Could nun in McAllen be the next Mother Teresa?

MCALLEN, TX (KTRK) -- About 50 people come through the doors to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church's shelter every day. The nun who started it is now asking the Houston community for help.

From clothes to food to showers, the shelter has been a place of rest and recovery for thousands of immigrants in the last year.

"We've helped clearly over 23, 000 immigrants," Sister Norma Pimentel said.

The place is Sister Norma's heart. She started it in response to the vast number of families showing up at a bus stop in McAllen. Many of them were exhausted, malnourished and without a place to go.

"We need help, you know, to continue to know that families are still coming. They're migrating to the United States fearing for their lives. They are really refugees," Sister Norma said.

Keeping this kind of operation going is no easy task. With only two paid staff positions, Sister Norma relies on volunteers and donations.

She's calling on the faith community in Houston for help.

"So if you can help, if you can come and donate your time, it'd be wonderful. If you can send funds or give money so we can buy all the things we need, or you can send any item you collect with your church, with your group, with your family," she said.

Sister Norma says any high schools or youth groups in Houston are more than welcome to come lend a hand. That's what she's been doing here, that caught the attention of Pope Francis.

"I didn't do this alone, you know, I did this with a community, with everyone joining me, so when he talked to me, he said this to everyone behind me: 'I love you,'" she said.

After the pope congratulated Sister Norma on her work at the shelter, she's growing in popularity.

"People will say, 'I saw you on the news, are you the one that I see all the time?' Or, 'Are you the rock star?' I said, 'If I'm a rock star, then I'm a rock star for God!'" Sister Norma said.

In fact, some people are now calling her the next Mother Teresa.

"She said, 'You are our Mother Teresa.' And I said, 'Well, if it brings goodness to others and helps people, especially the immigrants, I'm glad,'" she said.

Sister Norma and Mother Teresa both found themselves at the center controversial roles, letting the political chaos whirl around them while addressing the humanitarian needs at hand.

"She certainly has the heart of a Mother Teresa and the drive of Mother Teresa and the focus of Mother Teresa because she's really concerned about the poor," said Father Thomas Luczak with Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

There's no doubt that concern and care fills this room, and her impact reaches far beyond these walls.

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