When a Saint Addressed the US Bishops

Let us pray, as did Servant of God Sister Thea,
“Cardinals, archbishops, bishops, my brothers, please help me to get home!”


Servant of God, Sister Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A. (Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration), addressed the US Bishops at their annual meeting held in 1989.

Sister Thea, the granddaughter of a slave, was born in 1937 and decided to become a Catholic at the age of nine. A few years later, she asked to join the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and became the first African-American member of the Order.


She took the name “Sister Mary Thea” in honor of the Blessed Mother and her father, Theon. Her name in religious life, Thea, literally means “God”. She became a teacher and taught at all grade levels, eventually earning her doctorate and becoming a college professor of English and linguistics.

Sister Thea became a highly acclaimed evangelizer, teacher, writer, and singer sharing the joy of the Gospel and her rich Black cultural heritage throughout the United States. In 1984, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and lost her hair as shown in the painting below due to her chemotherapy treatments. She said, “I will live until I die.”


She also said, "My goal is to share good news. I want people to know that happiness is possible." I witnessed her sharing her good news during one of her last public singing performances at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. Sister was in the audience a few rows ahead of me sitting in her wheelchair in the aisle when she was spontaneously called to come up front and join the Black gospel choir to sing. She sang with all her heart, “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

In 1989 Sister Thea made one of her last public appearances when she addressed from her wheelchair the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. She began by singing the opening line of a Black Spiritual, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.” Perhaps she was implying that Holy Mother Church was not nurturing her or the Black people.

She asked the bishops, “Will you help me Church?” Then she continued singing, “I’m a long way from home.” Then she said, “Cardinals, archbishops, bishops, my brothers, please help me to get home!”


Contemporary Catholics can ask Sister Thea’s question of our own bishops, “Will you help me Church?” We can also plead with them as she did, “Please help me to get home!” Many Catholics feel that our bishops have left us with little hope after their 2018 annual meeting where they apparently did very little to resolve the clerical sexual abuse crisis and the crises of clerical enablers of sexual abusers and clerical enablers of sexually active homosexual priests.

Sister Thea died at the age of 52 on March 30, 1990. She said that she wanted her tombstone inscribed, “She tried”. Let us also try to encourage our bishops to respond to the requests of Our Lady of America for purity in our Church and to solemnly process and permanently display her statute in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception as her promised safeguard for our country.


We need to pray that our bishops receive the grace to do this. Please pray the novena to her and sign our petition for them to do so here.  If any bishops initiate a movement for the solemn procession and display, we will submit these petitions to them to support their cause.

In the meantime, our apostolate sponsors Visitations of the image of Our Lady of America. Perhaps you could host one. For more information, click here.

In April of 1957, Our Lady of America said, “Unless my children reform their lives, they will suffer great persecution. If man himself will not take upon himself the penance necessary to atone for his sins and those of others, God in His justice will have to send upon him the punishment necessary to atone for his transgressions.”

The statue of the Queen of Our Country must be displayed in our National Shrine as a safeguard for our country to avoid her prophesied punishment.

Jesus said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” (Luke 8:21). Many of our bishops and the administration of our National Shrine have heard the words of God spoken through His mother for her requests of purity and the display of her statue, but they have not acted on them.

They need the grace to believe Our Lady’s requests and to act on them. We need to pray that they receive this grace.

We also need to pray for our priests. Our Lady of America asked our priests, “to practice self-denial and penance in a special manner, because it is you who must lead my children in the way of peace. . . . Thus, by sanctification from within you, you will become a bright and burning light to the faithful, who look to you for help and guidance.” May they help us get home!

We recommend that everyone do at least one of these four things:
  1. Pray the Novena to Our Lady of America for True Change and Hope for America

  2. Sign the Petition for the Solemn Procession and Placement of the Statue of Our Lady of America in our National Shrine

  3. Host a Visitation with an image of Our Lady of America and pray A Holy Hour of Prayer for Purity, Peace and Protection
    .
  4. Venerate her image in your home
Our Lady of America promised that the placement of her image in the home would be a safeguard for the family. Click here for more information about the image and statue.

Here is the YouTube link for Sister Thea’s address to the US Bishops, begin at 7:17: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2S0tD6qFIA

Here is the website for Sister Thea’s cause for canonization: http://sistertheabowman.com/

Here is a prayer for your petition through Sister Thea’s intercession: http://sistertheabowman.com/prayer/



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