Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA

Written by Barb Spies, OFS, Director of Mission Services and Pastoral Care

Did you know that a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration who took her vows, studied, and worked in La Crosse, Wisconsin, has been endorsed by the U.S. Bishops on the path to sainthood? As we begin Black History Month, take a moment to learn more about this amazing woman and her work for God’s people.

The website of the FSPA Sisters offers this information about Sister Thea:

“Born Dec. 29, 1937, in Yazoo City, Mississippi, Thea was reared as a Protestant until at age nine when she asked her parents if she could become a Catholic. Gifted with a brilliant mind, beautiful voice and a dynamic personality, Sister Thea shared the message of God's love through a teaching career. After 16 years of teaching, at the elementary, secondary and university level, the bishop of Jackson, Mississippi, invited her to become the consultant for intercultural awareness. In her role as consultant Sister Thea, an African American, gave presentations across the country; lively gatherings that combined singing, gospel preaching, prayer and storytelling. Her programs were directed to break down racial and cultural barriers. She encouraged people to communicate with one another so that they could understand other cultures and races.

In 1984, Sr. Thea was diagnosed with breast cancer. She prayed "to live until I die." Her prayer was answered, and Thea continued her gatherings seated in a wheelchair. In 1989, the U.S. bishops invited her to be a key speaker at their conference on Black Catholics. At the end of the meeting, at Thea's invitation, the bishops stood and sang "We Shall Overcome" with gusto. Thea lived a full life. She fought evil, especially prejudice, suspicion, hatred and things that drive people apart. She fought for God and God's people until her death in 1990.”

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