By Joanna Puddister King
CANTON – Faithful from around the diocese gathered to celebrate Sister Thea Bowman at her home parish of Holy Child Jesus in Canton on Sunday, March 26. Sister Thea died on March 30, 1990 in her family home in Canton from breast cancer. Parishes throughout the country celebrated Sister Thea leading up to the 33rd anniversary of her death.
“We made sure to perform some of Sister Thea’s favorites,” said Myrtle Otto of the musical selections for the event.
Otto, a student of Sister Thea’s who performed on the Holy Child Singers album “The Voice of Negro America” in 1967, said that some of the songs included in the celebration were “It’s Me, It’s Me, O Lord” and “Every Time I Feel the Spirit.” Otto was featured during the celebration singing “Oh, it is Jesus,” backed up by the combined choirs of Holy Child Jesus and Sacred Heart Camden.
During Mass, Bishop Kopacz often closed his eyes to fully experience the unity of the body of Christ through song. “It was obvious that even without the music, the choir was singing fully and unsparingly, in perfect harmony. The music gave the celebration even more life,” said Bishop Kopacz, referencing the piano player being tied up at another celebration early in the Mass.
Instead of wearing his traditional vestments, Bishop Kopacz opted for a piece of history in the diocesan archives to honor Sister Thea – a vestment from Mound Bayou, one of the first African-American incorporated towns in the United States.
A lifelong friend of Sister Thea, Mamie Chinn present for the event summed up the day perfectly.
“It’s always a good day to celebrate Thea.”