Peterson, Sister Pimentel Named Commencement Honorary Degree Recipients

Peterson Pimentel Honorees

Holy Family University will present two honorary degrees during its 2019 Commencement ceremony, held on Tuesday, May 14 at the Kimmel Center. Thomas Peterson, Network Television Producer, Author, and Catholic Evangelist and Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley have been selected as this year’s recipients.

Peterson will receive his honorary degrees during the graduate ceremony at 9:30 am while Pimentel will receive her honorary degrees during the undergraduate ceremony at 12:30 pm.

Holy Family University proudly bestows the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, to all of our recipients. It is the highest honor that the University grants and is presented to individuals whose contributions to the public good warrant exceptional recognition.

Thomas B. Peterson
Network Television Producer, Author, and Catholic Evangelist

Holy Family University proudly bestows the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, upon Thomas B. Peterson. It is the highest honor the University grants and is presented to individuals whose contributions to the public good warrant exceptional recognition.

After 25 years as an award-winning corporate advertising executive, the trajectory of Mr. Peterson’s life took a dramatic turn. While on a Catholic men’s retreat, he experienced a transforming spiritual conversion during adoration of the Eucharist. He knew from that moment, he could no longer lead a secular existence. He found new meaning in Christ and the Catholic Church and resolved to change his life forever.     

Following this spiritual awakening, Mr. Peterson left the corporate world and devoted his talents to helping others renew and affirm their faith. In doing so, he founded two media apostolates: Catholics Come Home and VirtueMedia.org. 

The mission of Catholics Come Home is to call those members of the Church who have drifted away back to the light of Christ. It was the first faith group to air on national networks like CBS and NBC, and has reached over 250 million viewers in the past decade, guiding more than a half million souls home to Jesus. 

Mr. Peterson’s second apostolate, VirtueMedia.org, creates and airs sanctity of life commercials. Through this outreach, Mr. Peterson has created and distributed ads on MTV and BET, helping countless abortion-vulnerable women to choose life.  

Certainly, Mr. Peterson’s message has never been more important than it is today. Statistics show that a majority of young Catholics walk away from the Church by the time they reach early adulthood. Through his vocation, Mr. Peterson assists people in reuniting with God and the Church and deepening their connection with others.   

In the past decade, Mr. Peterson has presented at Catholic Conferences worldwide including the Vatican, and multiple appearances on national media venues. Upon the election of Pope Francis, Mr. Peterson was selected to offer live commentary to a global audience via the Fox News Network.

Holy Family University is delighted to recognize Thomas B. Peterson for his commitment to God and the Catholic Church and for helping light the path for so many Catholics looking to find their way back to a more fulfilling, meaningful, and purpose-driven life.

Sister Norma Pimentel, M.J.
Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley

Holy Family University proudly bestows the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, upon Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ. It is the highest honor the University grants and is presented to individuals whose contributions to the public good warrant exceptional recognition.

Sister Norma is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus religious order and serves as Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas. For the last four years of her ministry, Sister Norma has been tirelessly devoted to caring for individuals and families who are fleeing to the US from difficult conditions in their home countries. She and her legions of volunteers provide humanitarian assistance to these refugees once they are released from the detention facilities. 

Sister Norma’s work with immigrants dates back to the 1980s when she helped organize and operate Casa Oscar Romero in Brownsville. More recently in 2014, she led the local response to a surge of Central Americans coming into the U.S. from Mexico. As part of that effort, Sister Norma helped establish the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas. 

The Humanitarian Respite Center provides direction and counseling to families who are in the middle of an immigration process. It is a moment for families to catch their breath after a long journey escaping conditions of war, crime, economic difficulties, or other desperate circumstances. The Humanitarian Respite Center also provides food, a shower, and clothing to these families. Since its inception, over 100,000 people have received assistance.

Sister Norma believes it is important to look beyond politics and show dignity and respect to all, regardless of circumstances or country of origin. To serve others in this way is to be fully present with God. 

Sister Norma was awarded the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame University in 2018 in recognition of her compassionate care for migrants and refugees. In 2015, Pope Francis publicly thanked and praised Sister Norma for her work at the border.  

Holy Family University is pleased to honor Sister Norma Pimentel, MJ for her leadership in humanitarian efforts and the positive difference she has made in the world, especially for immigrant families.