McAllen nun gets special acknowledgment from Pope Francis

MCALLEN, TX (KTRK) -- As crowds gathered at the small sacred heart church in McAllen Monday morning, ABC News producers had to tell Sister Norma Pimentel she'd been dropped from the televised program. Two immigrants were planned to speak with the holy father and time was limited. But then Pope Francis himself went off script - he is after all the pope - and sought her out.

The humble nun started a shelter at this parish 14 months to help recent undocumented immigrants who had nowhere to turn but a bench outside the McAllen bus shelter.

Nearly 400 people inside this church were so quiet, so moved. They all know what it seems the pope himself knew, that the shelter and the love it represents wouldn't have been a reality without here.

That this shelter, which is still open, would never have welcomed 20,000 people into this country. And to cap it all off, the pope seemed to reach through the television closing the gap from the Vatican from McAllen, smiled and said, "I don't know if it's appropriate for a pope to say, but I love you very much."

"It's hard to say how special he made me feel," Sister Norma said.

It overwhelmed the exhausted, humble, known-around-the-world nun to get a papal thank you for what has become her life's work.

"I couldn't believe it was ... so wonderful," she said.

Now she's back at it. The shelter is still welcoming immigrant families to Texas.

You can see much more of the virtual chats during a special edition of 20/20: Pope Francis and the People. That begins at 9pm Friday night on ABC-13. null
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