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Sister Thea Bowman

“What does it mean to be Black and Catholic? It means that I come to my Church fully functioning, all that I am, all that I have, all that I hope to become.”

Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA, was an extraordinary woman, who, throughout her life, confronted racism and worked to desegregate every corner of her world. Throughout her life, she and her African American community faced white supremacy and racial injustices, and as an adult, she challenged the Church to see that all people, regardless of race or culture, could not only live and work together in harmony, but worship together as well. She taught us what it truly means to be a “catholic,” or universal, Church.

Bertha Bowman, known to us now as Thea Bowman, was born in 1937 in a small segregated community in the deep South to Mary Esther, a teacher, and Theon Edward Bowman, a physician. Her parents were well respected in the Black community, but like all Blacks in the deep South, life was perilous in a world where white supremacy was vigilantly enforced in every aspect of daily life.

Thea’s grandmother was a noble woman who had been enslaved and overturning the cruel legacy of slavery was very much a part of Sister Thea’s unrelenting passion for racial justice.

To learn more, download our resource packet. Women Witnesses for Racial Justice resource packets include:

  • Biography/Essay
  • Questions for reflection and conversation
  • Original art by Chloe Becker
  • Prayer Service
  • Suggestions for taking action in your community