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Sr. Thea Bowman Center



was established in 2022, and celebrates the life and legacy of Thea Bowman, FSPA, as a hub for inclusivity and equity teachings. A pioneer for justice and equality, Sr. Thea dedicated her life to advocacy for human rights for all people. This center highlights all the gifts she treasured, including education, spirituality, equal rights, music, literature, and art.

The door is always open, and everyone is always welcome.

About Thea Bowman

Daughter of a physician and a teacher, and granddaughter of people who were enslaved, Bertha Elizabeth Bowman was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi in 1937. She was raised by her parents as a Protestant until the age of 9, when she converted to Catholicism.  At 15 she came to La Crosse to join the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, where she entered the convent as the only African American member of her religious community.  

After 16 years of teaching at the elementary, secondary and university levels, she was invited to become Consultant for Intercultural Awareness for the Jackson, MS diocese.  In her role as consultant, Sister Thea shared her "ministry of joy", giving presentations across the country; lively gatherings that combined singing, gospel preaching, prayer and storytelling. Her programs were directed to break down racial and cultural barriers, encouraging people to communicate with one another so that they could understand other cultures and races.

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have put together a wonderful webpage where you can learn more about Sister Thea, including her biography, news stories, art, videos, images, interviews, and information about her canonization process.

More information about Sister Thea can be found on a Facebook page devoted to her (, as well as the website

Additional articles about Sister Thea may be found in the library's CREDO Reference database.

Sr. Thea Quote

Sister Thea quote

Original image by Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS

Library Resources

The following titles can all be found in the library's collection.  In addition, the Viterbo Archives holds many items related to Sr. Thea, including musical recordings, photographs, and news releases.  If you would like to schedule a time to visit the physical archives, please contact Jason Skoog, Archives and Systems Librarian:, 608-796-3262