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"I'm a Franciscan. I want to be an instrument of faith and joy."

        - Sister Thea Bowman: Her Own Story

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La Crosse Tribune: FSPA to memorialize their 'shooting star'



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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. We continue sharing our sisters' reflections of Sister Thea in

Perspectives Update.


Sister Celesta Day: Sister Thea "flew past like a shooting star"

Sister Thea with students at Holy Child Jesus School
Photo by Jerome Friar

What a free spirit! Sister Thea was a joy to watch. She had a glint in her eye that said, "Are you enjoying the trip? Do you know how great this world is? Do you see what I see?"  She challenged you with a shy and teasing goad. It said, "Hop on and we will have a ball!"  I remember. 

There was her horse blanket coat that looked awful but suited her, just fine. There were the train conductors and dining room cooks hanging out the passenger doors, waving to this beautiful woman who was their sister. There was the voice that sang out with whatever note fitted the situation. There were children at Holy Child Jesus School where, when she got them moving with music and shouting to the Lord, had eyes wide open and mouths bursting with smiles.


Sister Celesta Day

"I hear these teachers who preached the Word," Thea said. "I study their doings and how their voices ring out. How can I keep to? Listen folks! You brothers who follow my trail, do your thing! Don't just listen, get with your folks. You are beautiful-black is beautiful! Do what the Lord made you for." 

What a woman! The 'ole folks' stoked her spirit. They fed her the tales of her people and they filled her with wonderings that even the bishops had to sway with. "Who were your mothers?  How did they teach you to love your flocks? Come on brothers, we need to overcome!  Link your arms and sing to the Lord." And they did!

"Is the doctor giving up on me?" the frail and cancer-weakened Thea asked. "When I talked to the folks on the road I could forget the cancer and move with the crowd. Now, I'm too weak."  When the black studies crew came to visit, she goaded again. "Tell the stories! Feed the people!" They nodded and wept, they held the African garb to their breasts and cried, "My sister! My sister!" What a woman!

"You white folks are just too stiff! Can't you clap your hands? There is joy around you. Can't you see what the Lord has given you? Come on sisters, do your thing! When I die I want you to get out of those church pews and move your bodies. Get the joy flowing. My funeral can't be a weeping wail, it's got to move and praise the Lord." 

I remember and the memories are blessed. You flew past like a shooting star. Thanks, Thea! 


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."