Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA)

Modern Lives. Sacred Traditions.


Thea Bowman In The News

August 2017

Boston College Department of Theology has released the syllabus for the fall 2017 semester course "Introduction to the African Fathers and Mothers of the Church: from the post-Apostolic period through the Councilof Nicea (A.D. 325), and to Saint Bakhita of the Sudan and Sister Thea Bowman." The lives, writings, and teachings of the African Church Fathers and Mothers will be studied in the context of their times, through lectures, readings, films, and discussion. 


May 2017

Viterbo University's Fine Arts Center recital hall has been named Starling Recital Hall for alumna and former Sister Thea Bowman student Nola (Starling) Ratliff (reports “La Crosse Tribune”). The honor follows a gift designated to support a scholarship, promoting diversity, in Thea's name. 

La Crosse, Wisconsin's WXOW News Channel 19 also reported the story: "Viterbo University names hall after distinguished alumna,” feat‚Äčures the event to honor Nola Starling Ratliff, her namesake the “Starling Recital Hall,” and "the [FSPA], especially Sister Thea Bowman, [who] shaped her into who she is today.” Find the story on WXOW's website.

April 2017


March 2017

February 2017

Sister Charlene Smith will present “Thea’s Song,” announces the American Association of University Women’s La Crosse Branch, to members of the organization on Saturday, Feb. 11, at FSC. Information is available in AAUW’s February 2017 issue of The Current. 

January 2017

In the Winter 2016 issue of The Franciscan Reporter, “The Shining Light in East St. Louis” is Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School. “Our students have opportunities that simply do not exist for most East St. Louis children. A strong culture blends respect, Catholic values and peacemaking skills” and the many strong academic studies “have been enhanced with the expressive arts of song, dance and violin.” Extended Day programs like Chess Club and Dream Team and “the support of many” help to ensure “our Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School remains a strong and viable Catholic presence in East St. Louis.” Click here to read the full article.

Stories from the recipients of the Sister Thea Bowman scholarship, featured in the Winter 2017 issue of the Sister Thea Bowman Newsletter, shine light on the fact that these students are not just recipients of the scholarship; they are family to the Sister Thea Bowman Foundation. “The Foundation offers love and hope to these students in the same way a family does by providing for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. What motivates the foundation is love – love for the students it supports despite the challenges they have encountered or the circumstances from which they come.” The love shines through in the students’ stories.

October 2016

Questions about Sister Thea Bowman's legacy in the Dallas, Texas parish Holy Cross and answers provided by Sister of St. Mary of Namur Roberta Fulton are featured in the Oct. 13 issue of Global Sisters Report. The interview preceded the parish’s Oct. 15 celebration of Thea during which her friend, Sister Roberta, the principal of a Catholic school in South Carolina, spoke at a Mass. When asked why she would share her story that day Sister Roberta responded “I loved who she was, what she stood for and who she worked among—just her lively spirit and her interest in the African-American community … in our people, and, as she said, ‘my people.’” When asked what she would speak of that day Sister Roberta said “I will talk about how she loved young people. I will talk about her singing ... [which] was the way she communicated.” When asked why Sister Thea’s legacy is still significant today Sister Roberta answered “She was constantly … saying that African-Americans had gifts to bring to the Catholic church … that we needed to be out there helping people learn about us—that we are, and from the beginning were, black and Catholic.” And when asked what we need more than ever Sister Roberta replied “You hear of young people hurting young people … not having a sense of ‘Yes, life is worth living. It is okay to be proud … stand up for what’s right.’ Sister Thea wanted us to be inspired.” To read more about Sister Thea, Sister Roberta and black Catholicism as she sees it visit www.globalsistersreport.org.

With “storytelling, testimonials, music, a portrait unveiling, and the dedication of a bronze memorial plaque in honor of the African-American nun who left a lasting mark on the congregation,” there will be a celebration of Sister Thea Bowman’s life at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 15. Holy Cross is a parish Sister Thea visited many times in the 80s and she remains in the heart of the church, in the spirit of the people there. “Sister Thea spoke up at a time when African-American Catholics didn’t have a voice,” said Vicki Mathews, a long-time Holy Cross parishioner and choir member. “She inspired us to be proud of our black heritage and the gifts we bring. We started singing more from our traditions and feeling freer about expressing ourselves.” The day of honoring Sister Thea’s legacy at Holy Cross will include a 5 p.m. Mass with a tribute by her “long-time friend” Sister Anita Baird, DHM; a liturgy of new music composed by Dr. Aaron Matthews to her muse; and a program for children who will take her inspiration to the future, created and presented by Sister Roberta Fulton, S.S.M.N. To read more about Sister Thea's life, the legacy of Black Catholicism she gifted Holy Cross and the joy to be given on Oct. 15 by those inspired by her click here.   

September 2016

Sister Thea Bowman has linked two women inspired to share her legacy: Stacy Williams, a pastoral associate at St. Malachy Parish in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Mary Queen Donnelly, playwright and friend to Sister Thea. Stacy wrote to Mary of a Thea Bowman conference sponsored by St. Malachy “to celebrate the gifts African American Catholics bring to the Church,” out of which “came the need and desire to discuss diversity from a Sister Thea perspective. We are now polling those who knew her best to share with us Sister Thea’s philosophy on how diversity should work.”

Mary replied in the essay “Two lives converge” beginning with their upbringings in Canton, Mississippi: “Thea in her African American culture, and I in the segregated-divided town typical of the Deep South.” Of the decision to become a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Mary reflects that Sister Thea “paved the way for a journey that would evolve into an appreciation of the contributions of a multicultural and diverse society.”

Click here to read the rest of Mary’s essay.

 

July 2016

Exciting news. "Thea’s Turn" by Mary Donnelly is now available for licensing through stagerights.com! 
Visit the show’s page here.

Currently only a digital perusal is available for purchase through the site. The printed perusal and acting edition will be added to the store as soon as they’re available.

Looking forward to getting this show out to theaters!
 

March 14, 2016 

The Catholic Voice, Oakland CA

Sister Thea resounded again, four days later, in the Diocese of Oakland, California’s The Catholic Voice. In observation of Black History Month, she was honored in an address given by Reverend Bryan Massingale, STD, (Marquette University theologian and professor) as part of “a long and proud history … of people who have stood up for justice … because of their faith.” Yet for her progressive “ministry of understanding and love” and the country’s election of “the nation’s first black president” he declared “our shameful past is not past.” Read the article and more of Father Massingale’s message: “We are still here because of God’s grace.”

March 10, 2016

Tidings, on line as The Angelus, Diocese of Los Angeles
Sister Thea Bowman recently radiated through a historian, a Felician Franciscan and the article “Change of habit: The struggle of African American sisters in the U.S.” (published in the March 10 issue of Angelus: The Tidings Online). She shines through the story as a black woman religious who did not leave FSPA after Vatican II; who was “stumbled” upon as such nine years ago by a Rutgers University grad student who’s written the book Subversive Habits: Black Nuns and the Long Struggle to Desegregate Catholic America; who is now known to a young religious sister (interviewed for the book) describing herself as previously “oblivious” to prejudice within the Church, who came away from the conversation “dumbfounded to learn about the bedrock discrimination and outright racial loathing against African American women by white religious communities.” 

 

March 4-5, 2016

Sister Thea Bowman Conference

Thea conference imageThe Sister Thea Bowman Conference was held to honor its namesake in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Stacey Williams, a conference planner reports that Deborah Pembleton, Ph.D. and Reverend R. Tony Ricard (both highly touted by Sister Charlene Smith) presented. Discussion included African American Spirituality, Music, Movement and Storytelling. Mass, featuring Philadelphia’s African American Choir and African American Dance Ministry, was celebrated at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Roman Catholic Church. 

February 16, 2016

In recognition of Black History Month, Sister Thea was featured on Catholic Charities USA Facebook page. Sister Thea was praised for teaching us “how to bridge racial and cultural divisions throughout society.” See the post here. You can read more about the woman gifted with a brilliant mind, a beautiful voice and a dynamic personality here.

January 2016 

McGrath presentation flier

November 2015

NBCC Black Catholic Newsletter | November / December 2015

Spotlight ...

Remembering Sr. Thea, “Teaching Scripture with the Spirituals”  by Michael P. Howard, MA.  

If Sr. Thea Bowman was living today, she would be seventy-eight years old. Embedded in this soul sister were several gifts that she freely gave to her community. She was an educator, actress and singer who had a profound effect on many in this world. One of her friends commented that she made you happy to be alive. In my own experience while attending the Black Catholic Congress in Washington D.C., she told me to “always feel free to express God’s gifts to the church.” Of all the readings by Sr. Thea that I have read and listened to, her lesson on teaching the Scripture with spirituals remains deeply rooted in me.

 

August 2015

 “Within the African American experience,” writes Father Maurice Nutt, “once something is deemed ‘good news’ it does not remain a secret, it must be told.” This is why he writes about Sister Thea Bowman in his Aug. 28 My Daily Journal blog “We are called to Evangelize.” According to Father Maurice, her virtuous proclamation to American bishops through her voice and “black teaching style at its best … was a call to conversion … the first step toward justice.” 

June 11, 2015

Brother Mickey O'Neill McGrath, OSFS, will be presenting "This Little Light - a Celebration of Beauty through the Life of Sister Thea Bowman" at St. Columba Church in Oakland, CA, tonight at 7 p.m. Read more.

Brother Sun Sister Thea painting by Br Michael McGrath

May 2015 - Presence

How do you honor the bright light that is Sister Thea Bowman? You plan for five years. You gather her friends (who are really good storytellers). You encourage an artist to get inspired. You enlist the Viterbo University Concert Choir. And, “Just like Sister Thea, [you] let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” That’s what happened March 29 and 30, as friends came together to honor the 25th anniversary of Sister Thea Bowman’s homegoing. Read the article here

Brother Mickey McGrath unveiled “Brother Sun, Sister Thea” (pictured at right) during Mass on March 30. His inspiration: the humble meal shared between Saints Francis and Clare, where, while speaking about God, people for many miles observed a bright, fiery glow. Prints are available at www.bromickeymcgrath.com.

 

May 2015

Pax Christi, in its May 18 reflection emailed to subscribers, features Sister Thea Bowman. Visit Pax Christi to view that reflection.

Spring 2015

Viterbo University's Spring 2015 edition of Strides magazine featured Brother Mickey McGrath’s stunning painting “This Little Light of Mine” on the cover as well as four additional pages and many photos dedicated to “Sr. Thea Bowman: Shooting Star Across the Viterbo Horizon.” Read the article here.

April 2015

April 30, 2015

Sister Thea Bowman"Good news for one another: The legacy of Sister Thea Bowman" is the title of Tom Roberts' story featured in NCR's Global Catholic Sisters Report. Tom, NCR editor at large, was a guest at the Thea events held at the Franciscan Spirituality Center and St. Rose March 29 and 30.

Spring 2015 (March/April)

“Her ‘Little Light’ Shines Big,” an article in the Spring 2015 issue of Catholic Extension, celebrates the anniversary of Sister Thea Bowman’s death. “With Words and song,” she “brought people together to understand and appreciate that we are all people of God.” The feature goes on to highlight her life as a “Student and Educator,” “Bridge builder,” and “Leader.” 

La Crosse Area Visitor featured Sister Thea Bowman and the events held to honor the anniversary of her homegoing. 

April 16, 2015

In pictures of the Viterbo University Concert Choir, Mary Lou Jennings, and Brother Mickey McGrath and Father Maurice Nutt, published with a feature story authored by Jane Comeau, the April 16 issue of The Catholic Times celebrates Sister Thea’s anniversary events. “Today, the FSPA continue to recognize the many ways in which Sister Thea’s spirit continues to move people to find their deepest humanity” concludes the article.


The Sister Thea Bowman Black Catholic Educational Foundation celebrated its nineteenth annual scholarship dinner at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Attendees celebrated 25 years of serving, supporting and educating African American youth in America. View the Sister Thea Bowman Black Educational Foundation dinner program

April 8, 2015

Father Maurice J. Nutt, CSsR - new blog site features article on the courage of Sister Thea Bowman. Check it out.

April 5, 2015

Thea Bowman is passing through the south and the east upon the anniversary of her homegoing. Jackson, Mississippi’s The Clarion-Ledger published an article announcing the reprisal of “Thea’s Turn” this coming weekend. Mary Queen Donnelly was interviewed and says that on the eve of death Thea’s insistence she write the play “… was like she wanted to be back on stage.”

April 2, 2015

Catholic publication The Boston Pilot picked up the April 1 CNS article “Sister Bowman’s presence, energy recalled 25 years after her death” and ran it last week, leaving her legacy in Massachusetts.

April 1, 2015

Sister Bowman's presence, energy recalled 25 years after her death - a wonderful article on Thea Bowman from Catholic News Service.

March 2015

March 20, 2015

Mississippi Catholic published a litany of links to articles of all things Thea including “Let us love one another,” a Holy Week reflection (reportedly her last) dictated to Sister Dorothy Ann Kundinger FSPA.

“A Bridge over Troubled Water.” Such symbolism, illustrating Sister Thea Bowman and announcing the events to celebrate her homegoing, was published in the March 2015 issue of Klutch: Culture and Entertainment in the Coulee Region. “Besides being an extremely dedicated, religious woman, she was vibrant, spontaneous and alive,” says Sister Charlene Smith in the article. “That’s what drew people to her.” Read the article, that includes celebration information, here.

March 5, 2015

The March 5 issue of The Catholic Times announces that FSPA is “to celebrate life of Sister Thea Bowman.” The article, authored by Jane Comeau, introduces Sister Thea who, as “a black woman, worked with people of all races to help them see their own lives in a new light.” The story shares excerpts from Sister Charlene Smith’s book "Thea’s Song: The Life of Thea Bowman" about the influence of Thea’s teaching in both La Crosse and Canton, Mississippi; information about the upcoming events commemorating her legacy; and a quote from Thea herself: “But if each one would light a candle we’d have a tremendous light.” View the article here.

March 3, 2015

La Crosse Tribune recently paid tribute to the life, legacy and celebration soon to come: the 25th anniversary of Sister Thea’s homegoing. She was “The first black member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and the granddaughter of a slave,” reads the article that announces the anniversary events of this month, further describing her as “an intellectual giant, a star, a modern mystic, a prophet and ‘Mother Teresa with soul.’” Sister Charlene Smith echoes those sentiments in the story: “She was a star, a thoroughbred, a life force.” Read the article (that includes details of upcoming events) here

Also published in the Tribune have been a photo gallery, photos of both Sister Charlene Smith and former Thea student Deborah Pembleton.

 

February 2015

Feb. 26 - Two Friends of Thea interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio.

For the upcoming 25th anniversary of her homegoing and celebration of her legacy, WPR’s Newsmakers honored Sister Thea Bowman on Thursday, Feb. 26. Host Maureen McCollum interviewed Sister Patricia Tekippe, FSPA, and former Thea Canton, MS, student Dr. Deborah Pembleton. You can listen to the interview and find more information about Thea events, coming in March.

 

Black History Month 2015

In honor of Black History Month, National Black Catholic Congress is sharing an image collection from Marquette University Raynor Memorial Libraries. Sister Thea Bowman graces the compilation. To view the collection click here. To see Sister Thea, enter “Thea Bowman” in the search bar at the upper left-hand corner of the page (then click on the photo for a description).

 

"No feeble worship"

From Michael Kwatera, OSB, St. John's Abbey, Collegeville MN, St. Cloud Catholic Diocese, here is lovely article (Feb. 2015) about Sister Thea and African American worship. Here is Sister Thea talking about "No feeble worship"  Read it here

During an evening celebration of black music at a national convention of pastoral musicians, Sister Thea quoted an elderly black woman named “Blind Singing Lizzie.”

I met Lizzie during my visit to Sister Thea in her hometown of Canton, Miss., in the 1980s. Lizzie declared that “You have to love the Lord God with your whole mind, your whole soul, your whole heart. You don’t bring no feeble worship before the Lord!”
 

Figures of Faith Preside Over Birder Hall

From St. Norbert's College, De Pere, WI, read the story about the Sister Thea statue in the February issue of their monthly e-newsletter. Read it here.

Address at St. Columba Church, Sister Thea Bowman, Shooting Star

Thea celebration adSister Thea Bowman had this to say about the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple:

"It is fitting that we call to mind black history and present the legacy of black life to God on this Feast of the Presentation. Like Mary and Joseph, we are doing today what the wisdom of our cultural and faith traditions have told us to do, for we live at a time in human history when it is clear that we need to remember the heritage that lives on is us. ...

"It didn't matter to Mary and Joseph that when they got to the temple, it was only a simple old man and a feeble old woman who recognized the presence of God in their child. They didn't need the recognition of the high priest or the approval of the chief magistrate to know that Jesus was a gift from God.

"It seems to me that our ancestors had a 'Mary and Joseph way of looking at things.' It didn't matter to our ancestors that their children were born in the stable of a hostile society. They shared their belief in a God who could make a way out of no way. ...

"God has spoken to the world through us. He has made himself present to the world through us. So we gather in God's house, just as Mary and Joseph did, to give praise with our thanksgiving. Knowing the wisdom of our ancestors who did with us what Mary and Joseph had done, we present our history and our lives before the altar and say thank you to God." 

 

January 2015

Thea statueSister Thea sculpture carved, homegoing event plans taking shape
St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, recently opened a new performance venue, Birder Hall, in an old church. In preparation for a mission and heritage permanent display, staff is getting ready to install four carved sculptures of individuals from Christianity who represent the arts: King David, St. Hildegard von Bingham,C.S. Lewis, and Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Thea Bowman. 

In addition to the sculpture, hand-carved from solid limewood by the Albl family of Oberammergau, Germany, a quote from Sister Thea and her biography will hang on the heritage wall. “If each one of us would light the candle, we’ve got a tremendous light,” reads Sister Thea’s quote.

Reminder to mark your calendars: FSPA, together with the Franciscan Spirituality Center, will honor the 25th anniversary of Sister Thea’s homegoing during a series of events starting March 15 and culminating March 30 during Mass at 10:30 in Mary of the Angels Chapel. Visit www.fspa.org/theabowman for event details. 

Photos and information courtesy of Drew Van Fossen, St. Norbert College

2014 Articles

November/December 2014 - NBCC Black Catholic Newsletter

In this newsletter, Sister Thea Bowman is featured in the lead article for Black Catholic History Month. The article, which originally appeared in The Word Among Us, can be read here.

November - Black Catholic History Month

Sister Thea Bowman is highlighted in impressive BCHM resource circulated by US Catholic Bishops Conference. See Black Catholic Role Model  (p.2) and a Modern Day Saint (p.6).

Read document here.

June 2014

I'm Going Home Like a Shooting Star! The Legacy of Sr. Thea Bowman by Jill A. Boughton. Read it here.

Sister Marcia Ternas, FSE, alerts us to a group of women known as One Spirit One Call (OSOC) who will celebrate Sister Thea Bowman at their annual event June 8th, St. Charles Parish in Portland, OR. Their goal is to build connections between women of different parishes. The event focuses on a holy woman (Thea) to support their efforts to build connections. 

May 2014

Artist Michael McGrath has wonderful piece on Thea as a Phenomenal Woman on his Facebook page posted May 30. "We all mourn the passing of Maya Angelou, a woman of wisdom and grace. William T. Ditewig remembers another woman of wisdom and grace, Thea Bowman."

April 2014

Sister Thea Bowman Black Catholic Educational Foundation 18th Annual Sponsorship Dinner

April 4-6, 2014

Artist Mickey McGrath gives presentations on Sister Thea Bowman in the Diocese of Jackson. Read article from Mississippi Catholic and view new Thea painting here.

March 31, 2014 - "Let Your Light Shine" by Br. Mickey McGrath

Thea image March 31, 2014-by Br. Mickey McGrath

March 2014 - Sister Thea is featured in the March 2014 issue of Give Us This Day-a new, personal prayer periodical from Liturgical Press-a trusted publisher of liturgy, Scripture and spirituality founded by the Benedictines of Saint John's Abbey in 1926. Deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition, Give Us This Day, is about prayer: praying daily, praying well, praying with confidence. Read Thea feature "Blessed Among Us" here.

Thea's Turn in New York City

Mary Queen Donnelly, author and childhood friend of Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA (1937-1990), sends this exciting news from the Dramatists Guild.

A staged reading of Thea's Turn, a full-length drama based on the life of Sister Thea Bowman, will take place at the recently renovated Jesuit St. Francis Xavier Church, 46 West 16th Street, New York City, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. The reading is directed by Gerald Glackin and sponsored by the Lay Spirituality Program of St. Francis Xavier Church NYC. Public is invited. Admission free.

For more information: Thea's Turn, featured on page 8 in Spring 2012 FSPA Perspectives magazine, includes colorful photos and playwright Mary Queen Donnelly's comments on the October 2011 production in New Orleans, La.

2013 articles

November 2013 - Sister Thea Bowman was honored at liturgy at St. Paul's Cathedral in Pittsburgh. Read the articles:

August 2013

A new review of the book Hope Sings, So Beautiful: Graced Encounters Across the Color Line by Christopher Pramuk graces the National Catholic Reporter’s Aug. 21 issue. In paragraph 3, Sister Thea Bowman is showcased with Martin Luther King, Jr. as an activist. Read the article here.

August 2013

Across Great Divides

America July 29-August 5, 2013

Anthony J. Pogorelc

New book, Hope Sings, So Beautiful by Christopher Pramuk, features Sister Thea Bowman. Read the review here.

As everyone was scrambling for information after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, CNN announced that “a dark-skinned individual” was seen leaving the area. Recently, in an article on wealth in the United States, The New York Times reported that white families are about six times as wealthy as black and Hispanic families. There is a color line. It divides people and is an obstacle to social justice. Christopher Pramuk, a theology professor at Xavier University in Cincinnati, invites us to face the complexities of race in the United States with truthfulness and hope.

Thea Bowman, FSPA, believed Catholicism had the power to forge empathetic relationships across the color line.

2013 Program cover17th Annual Scholarship Dinner

  • February 24, 2013

In its Feb. 24, 2013 issue, the La Crosse Tribune included the article “Local roots: artists and entertainers with ties to La Crosse.”

Sister Thea Bowman was among them. The feature introduces her and the others in short biographies compiled by former UW-L English professor Richard Boudreau. Go to the online edition of the Tribune article and select Sister Thea’s name to view hers (and the same for the others).

  • January 11, 2013

Carol Baass Sowa, staff writer for San Antonio, Texas' Today's Catholic, wrote: "I did not know her, but had reviewed a smaller book on her some years back by Brother Michael McGrath (This Little Light of Mine Lessons in Living from Sister Thea Bowman, Orbis Books, 2008), which I passed on to my granddaughter, so was excited to see your more detailed book on her wonderful life show up here at Today’s Catholic so I could read and review it too."

Read her meticulous review of Thea's Song here.

2012 articles

  • Nov Dec 2012 National Catholic Chaplains' publish a review of Thea's Song.

Bruce Aquilar, BCC titled his review of the Thea biography by Charlene Smith, FSPA, and John Feister, "Biography tells the story of the amazing Sister Thea who shared her gifts through story and song"

This biography reads like a novel – the story of young Bertha, a young black girl from Canton, MS, who at age 15 makes a decision to commit herself to a new life in a faraway place, leaving her beloved home and family. Along the way, she falls in love with the work of a fellow Southerner, William Faulkner, becomes a teacher, studies further in our nation’s capital and visits Europe.

Increasingly exhausted by terminal cancer, this woman perseveres to share her gifts through words and song with many, both in her church and across the land. Bertha became Sister Thea, (whose mother, a teacher, was Episcopalian and whose father, the town doctor, was Methodist), one of the most inspiring Roman Catholic nuns of the 20th century United States.

Read it here.

  • December 12, 2012. Thank You, Sisters!

John Feister (with Charlene Smith, FSPA, co-author of Thea's Song) describes his new book, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives. Read it here. Very nice! Included will be a piece by Fr. Maurice Nutt about Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA (1937-1990). The book will be released in February 2013

  • November 22, 2012

Sister Thea Bowman was featured as a “person who has inspired me to let my light shine” in the Nov. 22 issue of the Madison, Wis., Catholic Herald. Recalling an event the reporter Jeff Hedglen attended at age 16, he wrote, “She [Sister Thea] sang slow and sweet, calm and powerful, inviting and engaging, soothing and challenging, all at the same time. It was a moment I have never forgotten.” Read the article here.

McNamara's column, "In Ages Past," is published every Tuesday on theCatholic portal. Subscribe via email or RSS.

  • October 2012

Thea in Green. Sister Thea Bowman was mentioned in Michael McGrath’s article Faith Circles: Making a mandala with paint and paper (America Magazine, Oct. 22, 2012).

In the section titled Circle of Soul Friends, Michael wrote, “I painted this trio of favorite saints and heroes (Blessed John XXIII, St. Francis de Sales, Sister Thea Bowman), prophets who read the signs of their troubled times and led the way to reform through joyful optimism against all odds.” Full story (and view Michael’s mandala) here.

  • The August 3, 2012, edition of Busted Halo, the online magazine for spiritual seekers, featured Sister Thea Bowman. An interesting sidebar to the story included tips to “Stay Fit with Sister Thea.” Read it at http://bustedhalo.com/blogs/sister-thea-bowman-living-joyfully.
  •  
  • July 2012. Diane Donovan and James Cox, editors at Midwest Book Review, Oregon, Wis. (near Madison), recommend Thea's Song: The Life of Thea Bowman by Charlene Smith and John Feister as one of three selections for The Christian Studies Shelf in midwest libraries. The biography is powerful on many levels and assures that Thea's life and contributions won't be forgotten. Read the review here.
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  • June 2012. Todd Flowerday of Catholic Sensibility writes: As the USCCB’s Fortnight for Freedom continues, we take an alternative track here. I’ve been promising more voices, and today, guest blogger Fran Rossi Szpylczyn contributes a stirring testimony for a stirring woman of our times.

No review of worthy women of our church can exclude the woman who would not be excluded at any cost – Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA. A woman religious who stated that she wanted to “go home like a shooting star,” she also lived that way; her life was like a blazing tale of God’s glory, against the sky of her life.

Read Fran Rossi Szpylczyn's essay here.

  • June 2012 Midwest Book Review touts Thea's Song: The Life of Thea Bowman as a strong pick for library biography collections focusing on the Civil Rights era and those who tried to make a difference. Read the review here.
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  • June 10, 2012. “What’s the 411?” With Sharon Kay”

    Sister Charlene Smith and John Feister are scheduled as guests on the radio show “What’s the 411?” With Sharon Kay.” The program will air Sunday, June 10, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. CST. Sharon will interview Sister Charlene and John about their book, Thea’s Song.

    What’s the 411? with Sharon Kay airs live on 88.1FM WFSK Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn.

     
  • May 25, 2012 From The Tidings, Los Angeles CA. Read the article here.

    Targeting youth: The Sister Thea Bowman Music Academy

     
  • May 5, 2012. From the National Federation of Priests Council


    In Thea’s Song: The Life of Thea Bowman, Sr. Charlene Smith, FSPA and John Feister write a moving chronology of an African American woman born into a Protestant family of freed slaves, went on to join the Catholic Church, become a religious of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, obtain a Ph.D. in English and founded the National Black Sisters Conference.

    Perhaps an excerpt from the Introduction best tells about Thea Bowman’s life and why this volume is important: “In the years after the peak of the civil rights movement, in the 1960s and especially in the 1980s, as the nation grappled with the questions of racial identity and equality, hers became a mesmerizing presence wherever she went . . . . Through music and reflection, she helped people everywhere she went to explore their identity and to find their deepest humanity.”

    Available for $18.00 from Orbis Books, P.O. Box 302, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0302. Tel: (800) 258-5838. Fax: (914) 941-7005. E-mail: orbisbooks@maryknoll.org. Web site: www.maryknollmall.org.
  • Recent reviews of Thea's Song The Life of Thea Bowman.

    --Myja Thibault, Virginia Union University, Richmond, Va., wrote review of Thea biography for American Catholic Studies, the publication of the American Catholic Historical Society, Philadelphia, Pa.

    --Savanah Jones, editor, www.SirReadaLot.org, Chapel Hill, N.C., published Thea's Song review in the biography section. Sir Read aLot had also reviewed the biography in 2010.
  • Thea's Turn, a play about Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA (1937-1990), by Mary Queen Donnelly.

    --Thea's Turn article written by Jen Pick was featured in spring 2012 FSPA Perspectives magazine. Includes colorful photos and playwright Mary Queen Donnelly's take on the October 2011 production in New Orleans, La.
     
  • University of Mississippi reprises 33-minute video of Sister Thea Bowman at their annual international William Faulkner conferences at Oxford, Miss. Highlights from Thea's presentations (1980-1989) are excerpted. Includes Thea singing. Watch her hit an amazing high note at the 1989 conference. See portrait artist Marshall Bouldin finishing his ubiquitous portrait of Thea in her Canton, Miss., home.

    --Are You Walkin' With Me? Video is shown in Southern Studies program at Ole Miss each year.
    "Are you walkin with me?" Sister Thea Bowman on Vimeo 32:36 (vimeo.com/11113853 - Apr 21, 2010)

At the end of the video, Mike Wallace, CBS 60 Minutes, recalls: "She had the remarkable quality of bringing people together. Black and white. Catholics, Protestants and Jewish. Kids and oldsters. I don't want to . . . I am reluctant to say too much because it will make it sound better than life, but it is pretty hard to go much better than that about Thea Bowman. She was just a remarkable individual."

  • "Let Us Love One Another during Holy Week" - The Final Wisdom of Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA (1937-+1990)

    Sister Thea Bowman was mentioned in an April 1 blog entry by St. Malachi Parish, Cleveland, Ohio. Blogger Father Tony Schuerger writes, “Sr. Thea Bowman was a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (F.S.P.A.). She helped found the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans and was instrumental in the preparation and publication of the American Black Catholic Hymnal, Lead Me, Guide Me.” Read the entry here. "Let Us Love One Another during Holy Week" was published in the April 6, 1990, issue of the Mississippi Catholic of the diocese of Jackson, Mississippi. It sill speaks today.
  • February 2012 – Black History Month - Soul Food Sampler/Sister Thea Bowman Sampler
    On Feb. 26, the Soul Food Sampler, long a tradition at St. Peter Claver Parish in St. Paul, Minn., during Black History Month, will be held in conjunction with a very special event in our parish hall following the 10:00 Gospel Choir Mass and Soul Food buffet. We will be having a guest speaker this year. (Many of you will remember the wonderful speakers we had following the inauguration of President Obama at a previous Sampler.) We are excited to have Sister Charlene Smith give a presentation on Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA (1937-1990). Sister Charlene entered the convent at the same time as Sister Thea and co-authored the book Thea’s Song the Life of Thea Bowman.

--View photos and read article by Rita Mae Fischer, FSPA, St. Peter Claver Annual Soul Food Sampler.

--View photos and read article by Patricia Tekippe, FSPA, “Soul Food Sampler”

  • The February 5, 2012, issue of Our Sunday Visitor features a four page article on the "History of African American Catholics." The story of African American Catholics is one of discrimination and strife, but ultimately the deep faith of religious and laity alike has prevailed. Sister Thea Bowman is highlighted with African American Converts to Catholicism including Mary Lou Williams and Alex Jones.
  • Jan. 16, 2012, issue of the National Catholic Register: The article "Black and Catholic" profiles three black clergymen. One of the men, Josephite Father Anthony Bozeman, lists Sister Thea Bowman as one of his heroes. Read the article here.

2011 articles

  • October 31, 2011

Tom Thibodeau and the Religious Leadership in a Diverse World seminar group came to the Franciscan Spirituality Center Halloween evening to explore the biography Thea's Song the Life of Thea Bowman. Left photo in the center is author Charlene Smith, FSPA. Second photo shows group learning about the Thea Collection in FSPA Heritage Department.

Sister Charlene with Viterbo class

Sister Charlene with Viterbo class in Heritage Dept

  • Play at Dominican Shines Light on Sister Thea Bowman

    Mary Queen Donnelly, teenage friend of Thea Bowman, wrote Thea's Turn, a play about Thea. It was produced at Xavier University, New Orleans and in Jackson, MS in 2008-2009.

  • Thea's Turn is the story of Sister Thea Bowman, an African American Protestant born and raised in the deep South. At age 15, she joins the Franciscan Sisters of Perptual Adoration. an all white Catholic community in La Crosse, Wis. Soon her native culture and the culture of the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church clash. The play depicts how the conflict resolves.

    The weekend of Oct. 14-15-16, 2011, Thea's Turn will be produced in New Orleans, at St. Mary's Dominican High School.

    The play won 2nd place in the national Eudora Welty New Play Series. You might remember in 1990, Mary wrote the popular and often-cited article about Thea's funeral in America Magazine-the first time a black woman ever appeared on their cover.

    For info about the play, the author, the actors, and the music click here.
  • Tom Roberts, NCR editor-at-large, new book, The Emerging Catholic Church, Orbis Books, 2011 showcases Thea’s 1989 address to the U. S. Bishops in Chapter One. He ends his book (p. 194) with this perceptive tribute to her:

Perhaps our future vision of heroic priests ought to take its cue from someone like Sr. Thea Bowman, a humble hero who holds a mirror up to our complexity. Sometimes we’ll do things her way, sometimes ours. Thea, great granddaughter of a slave, who understands better than most the messy reality of sin and redemption, of being both out and in, who knows how porous religious borders can be, who can even when dressing us down with a smile, convince us to cross arms and find a common song.

The church, she said, “is a family of families, and the family got to stay together.” And in that family, let no one feel like a motherless child.

  • August 2011 issue of The Priest magazine featured a 4-page article “Thea Bowman: Soulful Mystic” by Victor M. Parachin. Topics included: A Methodist in a Catholic School, Loving Environment, Back Home in Canton and Spiritual Roots. Rev. Parachin, an ordained minister, is a freelance writer and author of several books, including Lessons from the Living From the 23rd Psalm.
  • Another award for Thea’s Song the Life of Thea Bowman.

More good news from Robert Ellsberg, Publisher, Orbis Books:

The Catholic Press Association has honored Thea's Song with a Second Place Award for Biography: "A unique tone of love pervades this warm and beautiful story of a dynamic black girl who became a religious sister when our church was radically divided, and helped lead us all into a more open, Christ-like church today."

Congratulations! Perfect lead-in to the paperback.

  • On March 10, 2011, the Christophers confirmed that “Thea’s Song” by Charlene Smith and John Feister has been selected to receive a Christopher Award in the Books for Adults category at the 62nd annual Christopher Awards ceremony. The awards will be presented on Thursday evening, May 19, 2011, in New York City. See all winners in full article, "Award Winners Highlight the Power of Faith, Courage and Action."
  • Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA (1937-1990) was featured in the Education section of the March 5 through May 22, 2011, Spirited Women of La Crosse exhibit at the Swarthout Museum in La Crosse, Wis. See photos below. The exhibit highlights how a group of independent American women has shaped the La Crosse community in the areas of health care, education and fine arts.

Sister Thea Bowman photo in museum display

  • In Why Stay Catholic? Unexpected Answers to a Life-Changing Question, national best-selling author Michael Leach offers answers to this question. He introduces inspiring Catholics who can make a big difference in people's faith. Chapter 28 features Sister Thea Bowman.
  • Sister Thea Bowman Catholic Academy is named for Franciscan nun
    It was a day of celebration for the 277 students of the newly formed Sister Thea Bowman Catholic Academy as Bishop David Zubik formally blessed the Wilkinsburg school. The school is a merger (August 2010) of Holy Rosary School in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood and St. James in Wilkinsburg. 
  • Speaker focuses on life of nun considered for sainthood

    The Huntington, West Virginia, Herald Dispatch reported that “On Sunday [Feb. 27], St. Peter Claver welcomed Philly-based artist, writer and speaker Michael "Mickey" O'Neill McGrath to share [Sister Thea Bowman’s] legacy.” 
  • "It's black history all year at museum in Canton" Feb. 19, 2011 Clarion Ledger, Jackson, MS.

    The ClarionLedger.com reported that It’s black history month all year at museum in Canton. The article mentions that a portion of the Canton Multicultural Center and Museum honors Sister Thea Bowman, “the first known African-American nun from Canton. Her personal artifacts, clothing and pictures are visible around the museum.” “Sister Thea was very important to me in that she was Catholic and she never forgot her roots," said one museum committee member.

     

  • "Who is Sister Thea?" by Vanessa Barnes, Houston, TX

The Gulf Coast Catholic blog included Sister Thea in a February 15, 2011 entry. Author Vanessa Barnes’ entry, Who is Sr. Thea Bowman, describes Sister Thea as a “servant of God and young convert to the Catholic faith best known for energizing the African-American Catholic in America.” Vanessa adds, “I owe a large part of my Catholic tenacity to Sr. Thea as I was blessed to witness in person, her witty, powerful and soulful musings about her faith in God and her love for the Catholic Church. Whenever she was in or near the Houston area I was there. She fed me spiritually at a time when my perception was that people of color were far from ordinary in the Catholic Church. Her presence, her delivery, her faith was infectious; oh how I miss what she shared!
The entry also included a YouTube clip of Sister Thea’s funeral.

  • Pharmacy named in honor of Sister Thea
    Duquesne University School of Pharmacy established a Center for Pharmacy Sevices in Pittsburgh's Hill District (low income) at One Hope Square, 1901 Centre Avenue. Named it in honor of Sister Thea Bowman! Dedication Feb. 18th. A large framed print of Houston, TX, artist Tony Bryant's painting of Thea will be hung in the center. A reception immediately followed the dedication.
  • Concert to benefit Thea Bowman House of Prayer
    Heart parish in Camden, NJ is hosting "All Woman Concert" for women and the men who love them -- on Mar. 6th. Proceeds go to Thea Bowman House of Prayer and Women's Spirituality in Camden. Artist Michael McGrath did whimsical poster. (beestill.org). It's on the front page. Several holy gals associated with social justice issues, enjoying tea party -- Mary, Elizabeth, Joan of Arc, Kateri, Therese of Lisieux, Harriet Tubman, et al.
  • What makes a fast-track saint?

Attached is editorial cartoon in Feb 4, 2011, National Catholic Reporter featuring Bowman, Chavez, Day, John XXIII, Romero.

Informative article published in National Catholic Reporter Feb. 4, 2011.
"With beatification of John Paul II, what makes a 'fast-track' saint?"

  • Sister Thea Bowman continues in good company. A Maryknoll Book of Inspiration just off the press by Orbis Books includes two selections from Thea, one for April 1st and another for October 5th.

2010 articles

2009 articles

Thea News Archive (pdf files)

Thea News March 2008
Thea News March 2007
Thea News March 2006
Thea News September 2005
Thea News March 2005
Thea News September 2004
Thea News March 2004
Thea News September 2003
Thea News March 2003
Thea News September 2002
Thea News March 2002


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