Priest says late nun had ability to bring all races, cultures together

Catholic News Service (CNS)
April 5, 2010

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CNS) -- For Redemptorist Father Maurice Nutt, the late Sister Thea Bowman is his "personal patron saint of racial reconciliation that is sorely needed in our society." "I pray to her often for her intercession for this petition because she had the ability to bring people no matter their differences to a place of acceptance and peace," said the priest in his remarks at a March 30 graveside memorial service in Memphis marking the 20th anniversary of the nun's death.

Sister Thea, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, was nationally known for her work to advance the life of her fellow black Catholics in the church. She was 52 when she died of bone cancer. For the last two years of her life, the disease forced her to spend most of her time in bed or a wheelchair. She died on March 30, 1990, and was buried alongside her parents in Memphis.

At the time of her death, she had been a consultant for intercultural awareness for the Diocese of Jackson, Miss., for about 20 years. An educator, evangelist and gospel singer, she drew capacity crowds wherever she went, giving lectures and workshops on black Catholic culture and life. But she also reached out to all cultures in the church, as Father Nutt noted in his remarks.

"Sister Thea, because of her love of God, love of the church, love and acceptance of all people, caused us to bring the very best of ourselves and our various cultures to build up the body of Christ -- the church," he said.

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