Berth Bowman is born to Mary Esther
(Coleman), a teacher, and Theon Edward Bowman, a
doctor in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
1947 Bertha is baptized into the Catholic Church by Father Justin
Furman, ST, and makes her first communion.
Bertha enters the Franciscan Sisters’ community
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Having contacted tuberculosis, Bertha spends the
year recovering at River Pines Sanatorium in
Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
She commences her novitiate years, taking the
name Sister Thea, which means ‘of God"
Sister Thea teaches English and music at Holy
Child Jesus Catholic High School in Canton,
Sister Thea undertakes graduate studies in
Catholic University in
During a summer at Oxford Sister Thea studied
and traveled Europe. She began teaching at
Vitebro College in La Crosse, were she chairs
the English Department, and directs the
Sister Thea helps found the Institute of Black
Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New
Orleans being a faculty member until 1
Sister Thea received the Brother James Miller,
In a very difficult year, Sister Thea is
diagnosed with Breast Cancer and her parents
die, but Sister Thea continues a very active
schedule of speaking engagements, teaching, and
Sister Thea travels to Forty-third International
Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi, Kenya. Because
of Sister Thea good work, she received the
Harriet Tubman Award given by the National Black
Sisters. She also received Pope John Paul XXIII
Award from Viterbo College.
"60 Minutes" aired an interview between Mike
Wallace and Sister Thea
Sister Thea received more awards. Regis College,
Clarke College, Xavier University (New Orleans),
Scared Heart University, College of Our Lady of
the Elms, Boston College, Georgetown University,
Saint Michael’s College, Marygrove College,
Viterbo College and Spring Hill College all gave
her an Honorary Doctorate. Governor James
Blanchard recognized Sister Thea with the G.
Mennen Williams Award. Canton had declared 23
December Sister Thea Bowman Day.
Sister Thea received the U.S. Catholic Award for
her undeterred fight for women movement and the
Bishop Carroll T. Dozier Award from the
Christian Brothers College for
her struggle to have peace and justice in the
Sister Thea died on March 30; she posthumously
received the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame