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"I can change things. I can make things happen."

        - Thea Bowman, FSPA 

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Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
912 Market Street
La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601
As the Catholic community around the world celebrates the 25th anniversary of Sister Thea Bowman's homegoing on March 30, we revel in her perpetually bright presence as a member of the FSPA community. Several sisters who personally basked in her glow-the shine of a black woman religious who changed the culture of Catholicism-share their reflections of Sister Thea with us.


Sister Cecilia Corcoran: Thea's "wide smile reached in my soul"

We were 17 years old together in 1954, and in our early months of formation at
St. Rose Convent. I remember with much embarrassment the time when I suddenly became ill in our last class of the day. The teacher was Father Omar Missler and, as usual, we were into The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology by Adolphe Tanqueray, SSDD. I felt too sick to move, to leave the room, but as I finally rushed out I left a mess behind me. When I returned, I was ashamed to see Thea on her knees cleaning up after me. I don't remember anyone else who may have helped and I've never forgotten that day or Thea herself, whose wide smile reached into my shaky soul. It was somehow okay. I still don't know how it was she jumped to my rescue but I learned a lot from her and about her in those moments.

Sister Cecilia Corcoran

Growing up in northern Wisconsin, I had no contact with people of color before I met Sister Thea. She was unique in many ways but most impressive to me was her buoyant presence. There was no doubt about her brilliance, her sense of humor, her gifted voice, her enjoyment of life or her love of ice cream, but what shone out as she matured was the way she took on the social political issues of her time. Song and story enriched her message as she spoke out with compassion for justice and social change. 

After our initial years of formation together, our paths would cross at FSPA meetings or events where she was a key speaker. I myself was initiated to justice and peace concerns from my critical years in El Salvador and Sister Thea - with clarity and passion - could support and challenge me as I ministered in these areas. She invited everyone to participate:  "Each one, teach one" was her challenge and her song, This Little Light of Mine, still shines. 

Celebrate Sister Thea's joy with us today and always by granting a gift in her name. Scroll down the page and in the box marked "In memory of..." enter "Sister Thea Bowman."