Thea Bowman was born in 1937, in Canton, Mississippi. As a child she converted to Catholicism through the inspiration of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, who were her teachers and pastors. These religious communities nurtured her faith and greatly influenced her religious vocation. She additionally learned from family members, and those in her community, about coping mechanisms and survival skills, that proved essential as she navigated through the horrid experiences of blatant racism, segregation, inequality, and the struggle for Civil Rights in her native Mississippi. At an early age, Thea was exposed to the richness of her African-American culture and spirituality, most especially the history, stories, songs, prayers, customs and traditions.
In the 1960s, The United States was confronted by the quest for justice and racial equality for all Americans. This led to a transformation for Sister Thea Bowman, both spiritually and culturally. The liturgical renewal of the Second Vatican Council encouraged Sister Thea to rediscover her African-American religious heritage and spirituality. She emphasized that cultural awareness had, as a prerequisite, intentional mutuality. She was eager to learn from other cultures, but also wanted to share the abundance of her African-American culture and spirituality. Sister Thea became a highly acclaimed evangelizer, teacher, writer, and singer sharing the joy of the Gospel and her rich cultural heritage throughout the nation.
Novena for Racial Justice
Grace Heard Singing: Sr. Thea Bowman