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Sister Thea Bowman ~ A Love from Your Online Abbess

Dearest monks and artists,

We are very excited to be hosting ValLimar Jansen this Friday for a mini-retreat. She is an extraordinary musician and performer and has a special love for Sister Thea Bowman, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration and prophetic witness to the Black American Catholic experience who worked to break down racial and cultural barriers. ValLimar wrote a musical to celebrate Sister Thea’s life. 

ValLimar shares this reflection with us that she wrote originally for Liguori Publications: 

Sister Thea Bowman was a trailblazing African American Catholic religious sister. She was a powerful voice for social justice and a passionate advocate for the integration of African American culture into the Catholic Church. Her story is one of faith, hope, and resilience.

Born in 1937, in Yazoo City, Mississippi because all the hospitals in Canton, Mississippi, her hometown, were for white people only, Sr. Thea was the granddaughter of enslaved people, and she grew up in a segregated society. She never let her race or her gender define her. She was determined to make a difference in the world, and she used her platform to speak out against injustice and inequality.

Sr. Thea Bowman’s story will inspire and uplift you. Her life began with a childhood in Canton, Mississippi. As a fifteen-year-old she entered a life with a religious community in La Crosse, Wisconsin. From there she became a religious sister, a teacher, a musician, and a liturgist, traveling across the U.S. and abroad.

As a gifted educator, Sr. Thea taught at all levels, from elementary school to graduate school. She was a passionate advocate for education, and she believed that it was the key to empowering African Americans.

Sister Thea Bowman was a complex and multifaceted woman who defied expectations. She was a deeply spiritual woman who was devoted to her faith. But what made her truly special was her unwavering commitment to social justice.

She was a powerful speaker, able to connect with people on a personal level, and she had a gift for making complex issues easy to understand. She was also a skilled singer and storyteller, and she used stories and songs to illustrate the importance of faith, hope, and love.

Sister Thea was a remarkable woman who made a significant impact on the world. She was a pioneer in the fields of African American Catholic liturgy and education, and she was a powerful voice for social justice. Her story is one that deserves to be told. Her life gives witness to the power of faith, resilience, and the transformative impact of one remarkable person. She is now Servant of God, Sr. Thea Bowman and on the journey to becoming a Roman Catholic saint.

ValLimar highly recommends you listen to her historic address to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in June of 1989 to get a sense of her powerful spirit. 

Join us Friday as ValLimar invites us to celebrate and embody the legacy of this beautiful and prophetic woman’s vision. 

We are also delighted to be hosting Therese Taylor-Stinson for our monthly Centering Prayer session on Wednesday as well. 

With great and growing love,


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Dancing Monk Icon © Marcy Hall

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