Black History Month Spotlight: Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman

February 6, 2023 | Felician University

Sister Thea Bowman was born Bertha Elizabeth Bowman in 1937 in the state of Mississippi to parents Dr. Theon Bowman, a physician and Mary Esther Bowman, a teacher. As a child, she converted to Catholicism because she was inspired by how Catholics put faith into action. She learned that God loved and provided for the poor and the oppressed.

At 15, she wanted to join the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and went to LaCrosse, Wisconsin – where she would be the only African-American member of her religious community. She was given the name, “Sister Mary Thea” and became a teacher. She later earned her PhD and MA in English from Catholic University of America. Sister Thea went on to become a founding faculty member of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University.

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