When Thea Bowman was nine years old and attending Holy Child Jesus School, in Canton, Mississippi, she received permission from her Methodist parents to become a Catholic. The influences in her young life were, besides her mother and father (who later became Catholics), her teachers, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and her pastors, Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity. After high school, Thea entered that Franciscan order. As Sister Thea, she went on to earn master and doctoral degrees in English, and to teach on the college and university levels. Described by those who knew her best as having a brilliant mind, a beautiful voice, and a dynamic personality, Sister Thea went on to inspire the Church with the grace and evangelical energy of her joyous Black Catholic faith. She died in 1990, fifty-two years old. In 2018, the U.S. Bishops opened her cause for canonization, declaring her “Servant of God.”
Fr. Michael K. Barth, S.T.