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NEW YORK – Pope Francis recently wrote to Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, thanking him and the diocese as a whole for their work accompanying immigrants at the southern border.

Straddling the U.S-Mexico border, the Diocese of Brownsville is the southernmost diocese in Texas and has long been at the epicenter of the church’s response to migration, especially as the crisis has ballooned in recent years.

Flores posted the letter to social media on Dec. 5 saying it came in response to a letter he previously sent Francis, where he expressed the diocese’s closeness to him as a local Church, offered prayers, and described the work of many in the diocese “on behalf of the immigrant and the poor.”

“Thank you for your communication, with which you express your closeness to me and the work being done in the Diocese of Brownsville, especially in favor of those who for various circumstances are far from their homeland,” Francis said in the letter.

Included in the Diocese of Brownsville’s robust immigration services programs is the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley Humanitarian Respite Center, which helps hundreds of migrants everyday get their immediate needs taken care of and get set up to continue onto their next destination in the United States. The center is led by Sister Norma Pimentel.

In the letter to Flores, Francis also noted that “the efforts that must be made to adequately accompany the migratory reality are multiple.”

“But, I have no doubt that the current situation should encourage us in the promotion and integration of those who share the same condition in which the Lord found himself,” the pontiff wrote. “I thank you for all that you are doing to promote the culture of encounter.”

“I pray for you and for the People of God under your care, to whom I sent my blessing,” he continued. “I ask you not to stop praying for me.”

Commenting on the letter on social media, Flores said he is “grateful” for the pope’s “gracious reply.”

Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg