Sister Thea Bowman documentary on her journey to sainthood, set to release Oct. 2

A new documentary from NewGroup Media and the Diocese of Jackson, MS, Going Home Like a Shooting Star: Thea Bowman’s Journey to Sainthood, presents the riveting life of Sister Thea Bowman, an African American Catholic Franciscan Sister who used her powerful gifts to educate and challenge the church and society to grow in racial inclusivity. Her skills of preaching, music, and teaching moved many Catholics to begin to confront their own racism while she urged her African American brothers and sisters to claim their gifts and share their “fully functioning” personhood.  Thea worked tirelessly to proclaim this message until her untimely death from breast cancer in 1990.

The film features interviews and commentary from her family, Sisters in community, colleagues, friends, and former students. Input from African-American scholars, clerics and bishops will speak to the ongoing issue of systemic racism in the church and country.  Extensive use is made of archival media that portrays Thea in action–photographs, film, video and audio recordings recorded in locations of significance to her life.

The program title is drawn from a quotation attributed to Sojourner Truth. When Thea was asked what she wanted said at her funeral, she answered, “Just say what Sojourner Truth said: ‘I’m not going to die. I’m going home like a shooting star.’”

The film, part of the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission’s fall documentary season, will begin airing on ABC stations nationwide on October 2, 2022. As of Sept. 30, the following stations have scheduled showings of the film:

WTVA Tupelo- Oct. 2 at 10 a.m.
WTOK Meridian – Oct. 2 at 11:30 p.m.
WLOX Biloxi – Oct. 16 at 1 p.m.
WAPT Jackson – Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.

The film can be streamed on the Diocese of Jackson’s YouTube channel beginning October 2. The film is free to view, with donations requested to the Cause for Sister Thea Bowman.

Sister Judith Ann Zielinski, OSF researched, wrote and produced the film, from early COVID-quarantined research in spring, 2020 through fund-raising, location production, scriptwriting, and delivery to ABC in fall, 2022.  She coordinated dramatic re-enactments from Thea’s childhood and early convent life and conducted all of the program’s interviews—with Thea’s childhood friends, former students, teaching colleagues, two bishops, several priests and Franciscan Sisters, weaving together their personal memories and testimonies as a basis for the script.

Christopher Salvador, NGM Partner, directed the dramatic re-enactments within the film, coordinated budget, contractual and network relations, and oversaw post- production.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, Ordinary of Jackson, MS, initiated Sister Thea’s Cause for Sainthood in 2018 with an appeal to the full body of US Bishops which won unanimous approval. As Executive Producer, he supported the production of the film, actively collaborated with the production team, and continues to oversee the advancement of Sister Thea’s Cause.

Other interviewees include:

Rev. Maurice J. Nutt, CSsR, Preacher and pastoral theologian; Thea’s doctoral student; her biographer; associate producer instrumental in gathering pivotal colleagues and friends of Thea to participate in the project;

Rev. Bryan Massingale, Theology Professor, Fordham University, Authority/ speaker on systemic racism in the US and church;

Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, Ordinary, Archdiocese of Washington, DC, senior African-American Bishop who was present at Sister Thea’s famous Seton Hall address to the US Bishops in 1989;

Sr Eileen McKenzie, FSPA, President, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Thea’s religious community, La Crosse WI;

Sr Dorothy Ann Kundinger, FSPA, Thea’s friend, companion and caretaker during Thea’s struggle with cancer and present at her death

Going Home Like a Shooting Star includes extensive use of Bowman family photos, archival material, and footage of Thea from varied public appearances, including her famous interview with Mike Wallace on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

Going Home Like a Shooting Star was filmed on location in:

  • Jackson and Canton, MS
  • New Orleans, LA
  • La Crosse, WI
  • Washington, DC
  • San Antonio, TX
  • New York City
  • South Bend, IN

The film makes a strong connection between Thea’s Gospel call for justice, love and unity and the current effort of Black Lives Matter activists and efforts to combat systemic racism. Many in the film cite Thea’s voice as an influence on their ongoing efforts to achieve social and racial justice.

Production of Going Home Like a Shooting Star: Thea Bowman’s Journey to Sainthood was made possible with funding from the Catholic Communications Campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as support from various foundations and congregations of U.S. men and women religious.

Germanfest 2022

By Joanna Puddister King
GLUCKSTADT – St. Joseph parish hosted their annual Germanfest on Sunday, Sept. 25 on the church grounds. The Gluckstadt community was founded in 1905 by German immigrants. Many of the descendants of the original families still attend the parish.

Much prep work goes into planning this fun-filled festival. Families gather weeks in advance to can sauerkraut using a traditional recipe. In the days leading up to the Germanfest you can find parishioners preparing sausages, bratwurst, desserts and other German delicacies to share with the community.
This year, Germanfest was a hot one with temps in the low-to-mid 90s, but festival goers had lots of fun, good food and a variety of beer to sample.

The general store was stocked with sauerkraut and other goodies for sale. (Photos by Joanna Puddister King. More pictures from Germanfest can be found at mississippicatholic.com)
Morgan Ladner grits her teeth in the Women’s beer stein holding competition. Morgan Moore pulled out the win this year.
Germanfest attendees tried to beat the heat under tents.

Golfers turn out to support work of Catholic Foundation

By Joanna Puddister King
MADISON – With clear skies, twenty-three teams competed for the Catholic Foundation’s 40th annual Bishop’s Cup Golf Tournament on Thursday, Sept. 15 at Lake Caroline.

The proceeds from this year’s tournament aided in raising funds for the Catholic Foundation Grant Trust. “This trust provides funding for grant projects throughout the diocese,” explained Catholic Foundation executive director, Rebecca Harris.

“Each year parishes, schools and other catholic ministries are invited to submit grant applications for projects that they help fund. The Catholic Foundation raises money throughout the year to help fund these grant projects.”

MADISON – The Catholic Foundation’s 40th annual Bishop’s Cup Golf Tournament took place on Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Lake Caroline Golf Club in Madison. Pictured is the winning team of Chris Savell, Toliver McMullen, Ken Guthrie and Joseph Pressley playing for the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle Jackson and sponsored by Matthews, Cutrer and Lindsay, P.A. accounting firm based in Ridgeland. (Photos courtesy Rebecca Harris)

After a marvelous day of golf, teams gathered for an awards dinner and silent auction at the Mermaid Café. Awarded with the cherished Bishop’s Cup trophy this year were Chris Savell, Toliver McMullen, Ken Guthrie and Joseph Pressley, playing for the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle Jackson, and sponsored by Matthews, Cutrer and Lindsay, P.A. accounting firm based in Ridgeland. The second-place team was sponsored by WAPT and the third-place team was sponsored by BankFirst.

“The Bishop’s Cup committee began working on this tournament back in early July. They would like to thank all of the sponsors for helping to make the event such a success,” said Harris.

The 40th annual Bishop’s Cup was sponsored by: St. Dominic Health Services, Inc.; Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC; Citizens National Bank; Regions Bank; Rusty and Yvonne Haydel; BankFirst; BankPlus; Campus Dining; Capital Glass; Ken and Maetta Lefoldt; Matthews, Cutrer and Lindsay, P.A.; Mike and Diane Pumphrey; Old River Companies, Inc.; Raymond James; Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Canton; Allen and Maureen Scott; St. Joseph Catholic Church, Gluckstadt; Tico’s Steak House; Trustmark Bank; and WAPT. Special thanks to all of the hole sponsors, as well.

New film on Mother Teresa seeks to put 20th-century saint back in spotlight

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – With St. Teresa of Kolkata’s death 25 years ago, there is an entire generation of young men and women who did not see much about her life and legacy, serving “the poorest of the poor.”

That meant it was time to put her back in the spotlight, said a panel of those who were promoting a new documentary about the life of this saint, known popularly as Mother Teresa, who founded the Missionaries of Charity.

At her beatification in 2003, St. John Paul II called her a “courageous woman whom I have always felt beside me.”

Filmmaker David Naglieri talks with a Missionaries of Charity nun after a private screening of the documentary film, “Mother Teresa: No Greater Love,” at the Knights of Columbus’ Campo Pio XI in Rome Sept. 1, 2022. Produced by the Knights of Columbus, the film will be released in more than 900 theaters Oct. 3 and 4. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Mother Teresa was “an icon of the good Samaritan” who went “everywhere to serve Christ in the poorest of the poor. Not even conflict and war could stand in her way,” the late pope said.

Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said at a news conference hosted at Vatican Radio Aug. 31 that the Knights made this film “to reach a new generation with the witness and example of Mother Teresa” and to inspire them.

Produced by the Knights of Columbus, “Mother Teresa: No Greater Love,” had its Vatican premiere Aug. 31, ahead of its release to more than 900 theaters Oct. 3 and 4.

“Thank you for all the efforts made to capture the life of this saint, whose life and testimony have borne much fruit,” wrote Pope Francis, who canonized her at the Vatican in 2016.

“Thank you for promoting this type of initiative that helps, in a creative manner, to make accessible the zeal for evangelization, especially for the young generations promoting the desire to follow the Lord who loved us first,” the pope said in an Aug. 25 letter written to Kelly, replying to news of the Vatican premiere.
Mother Teresa was born Agnes Ganxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in Skopje, now capital of North Macedonia, on Aug. 26, 1910. On Sept. 5, 1997, she died of cardiac arrest at the motherhouse of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India.

The documentary, by Emmy award-winning filmmaker, David Naglieri, features archival footage and interviews with dozens of commentators who knew Mother Teresa personally. It was filmed on five continents, providing interviews with many Missionaries of Charity and offering on-the-ground images of their work following in Mother Teresa’s footsteps.

The documentary shows the work Mother Teresa inspired and, “when she was feeding the hungry or holding the hands of someone as they lay dying, she was treating them as she would the most important person in her life, Jesus Christ himself,” Kelly said in a media release.

“She was teaching us to have a heart that sees, and if we can learn to see as she did, the world would be a radically different and, I would say, better place,” he said.

New documentary on Sister Thea Bowman highlights her faith, justice work

By Anna Capizzi Galvez

WASHINGTON (CNS) – A new documentary on Sister Thea Bowman shines a light on her life and work as an advocate for racial justice and intercultural understanding.

The idea for the documentary came to Franciscan Sister Judith Ann Zielinski, who wrote and produced the film, after the 2020 death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

“I thought, I have to do something, what can I do?” and “Thea Bowman popped into my head. She was a Franciscan sister, a woman who had been fighting systemic racism in her own time and in her own way.”
The documentary is a comprehensive look at Sister Thea, the first African American member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and one of six Black Catholics known as a “Servant of God.”
It also makes a case for her sainthood and for contemporary spirituality, Sister Zielinski said.

“Going Home Like a Shooting Star: Thea Bowman’s Journey to Sainthood,” comes from NewGroup Media and the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi. Along with archival media of Sister Thea, the documentary features interviews with her colleagues, friends, fellow Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, former students and African American scholars, priests and bishops.

The one-hour film, a part of the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission’s fall documentary season, will begin airing on ABC stations nationwide Oct. 2.

This is an official promotional poster for the documentary “Going Home Like a Shooting Star: Thea Bowman’s Journey to Sainthood.” The documentary will air on ABC stations nationwide beginning Oct. 2, 2022. (CNS photo/courtesy NewGroup Media)

Redemptorist Father Maurice Nutt, associate producer and biographer of Sister Thea, called her an “apostle for racial reconciliation in our church today.”
Noting that she died in 1990, Father Nutt said the film would make her known to a new generation. He also said her life resonates with much of what younger Catholics are looking for in the church – someone who speaks truth to power.

“Her call for justice, justice for the roles of women, justice for those who experience no matter what ethnicity, oppression or hatred” speaks to “us as a church being the body of Christ,” he said.

He also said her call for people to come together and share their gifts is a pivotal message to put a stop to “some of the racial hatred that we see in our society even today,” Father Nutt told Catholic News Service.
Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson, Mississippi, petitioner for Sister’s Thea’s cause and executive producer of the documentary, said the film “speaks the need for the church to never give up that desire to be more united and more universal.”

He said Sister Thea had a “timeless message” that included a desire for greater harmony, unity, racial understanding and reconciliation and “being the body of Christ in a more faithful way.”

The bishop also remarked at the depth of her call, describing her as gifted, charismatic, prophetic and a “dynamo of energy.”

Sister Thea was born Bertha Bowman in 1937 in Yazoo City, Mississippi, to Dr. Theon Bowman, a physician and Mary Esther Bowman, a teacher. Her family moved to Canton where she encountered the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration at Holy Child Jesus School.

At age 9, Bertha became Catholic and at age 15, she left home for La Crosse, Wisconsin, to attend the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration’s high school, later joining the community and taking the name Sister Mary Thea.

Sister Thea went on to receive her doctorate from The Catholic University of America and returned to La Crosse to teach English and linguistics at Viterbo University.

Her parents’ deteriorating health called her back to Canton, where she led the Diocese of Jackson’s first Office for Intercultural Affairs. Her gifts for preaching, singing and teaching led her to countless speaking engagements across the United States.

In 1984, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died March 30, 1990, at age 52.

She was declared a “Servant of God” in May 2018 and the U.S. bishops voiced their consent to her canonization cause at their Nov. 2018 fall general meeting in Baltimore.

Sister Eileen McKenzie, president of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, said Sister Thea’s canonization would “hold up the spirituality and the gift of the Black Catholic Church” and “give courage to our African American brothers and sisters who often don’t have platform.”

It would also be significant for her order. One of the primary values of Franciscans is continual conversion, Sister McKenzie explained, noting that Sister’s Thea’s canonization would call the community into deeper conversion.

“Her spirituality, her witness, her prophetic spirit resonates with us today. It’s hard to even speak of Thea in the past tense. It’s as if she’s with us today,” Father Nutt said.

“Going Home Like a Shooting Star” was funded in part by the Catholic Communication Campaign. Streaming opportunities will be announced by the Diocese of Jackson. To watch a preview of the film, visit: https://youtu.be/tkzhnKG7mxc

Sister Dorothea, rather ‘wear out than rust out’

By Joe Lee
MADISON – Growing up an hour from Chicago, Illinois, long, cold winters were a way of life for Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth as well as an opportunity to enjoy sports that most Mississippians may never experience.

“We went ice skating, sledding and snowmobiling,” said Sister Dorothea, a registered dietician and a 2017 recipient of the Catholic Health Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her ministry at St. Dominic Health Services. “Later, I snow skied in Utah and Colorado when meetings would take me to that part of the country. I’ve gone dog sledding out there.”

MADISON – Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth and Bishop Joseph Kopacz share a laugh at the opening of the Clarence and Sue Smith Rehab Center and Tuscany Skilled Nursing Center at St. Catherines Village in July 2019. (Photo by Joanna King)

The broken neck Sister Dorothea suffered on Palm Sunday in 2015 brought an end to the sledding and snowmobiling the beloved Dominican Sister still enjoyed by then, but in no way did it put a stop to her desire to remain active.

“My broken neck wasn’t from skiing or dog sledding,” she said. “I was at the chapel at St. Catherine’s Village. I got out of a chair, lost my balance, fell back and hit my neck on the back of a padded chair. I had no pain when I stood, but as I drove back to the convent, I felt a lump in my throat and decided to go to the E.R. and have it checked out.”

Sister Dorothea, as she would learn, had torn a ligament in her neck. She had surgery that night and left the hospital the next morning wearing a neck brace.

“I didn’t need rehab, and I thank God and the doctor for the surgery,” she said. “It was a miracle. I had an assistant whose mother is a paraplegic after being injured in a tornado. Another assistant, when I was a dietician, was broadsided in a car accident and died from a broken neck. I said, ‘The Lord has something for me to do.’”

There would be no more snowmobiling, no more daydreams of skydiving. But Sister Dorothea remains active to this day, walking often and gardening the lovely expanse behind the convent every chance she gets. She’s quick to offer gentle encouragement to those who find it difficult to cope with the aging process.

“I was not depressed. It was the reality of it,” she said of the Palm Sunday fall. “I knew God had intervened. God has plans. There’s a reason for everything. We’re not as young as we used to be, and when I’m asked by people, ‘You’re really still working?’, I say, ‘I’d rather wear out than rust out.’

“My mantra is to have everything in your life in balance, everything in moderation. Good exercise, good nutrition, good rest and prayer.”

For Senior Wellness Resources – Click here

Corazón Ardiente llega a Mississippi

Por Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – La película está basada en una historia real sobre la investigación de los milagros del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús.

En su página oficial señalan que Karyme Lozano, reconocida actriz Mexicana, protagoniza a una “escritora de exito que investiga las apariciones del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús en busca de inspiración para su próxima novela. Guiada por María (María Vallejo-Nájera), experta en misterios, Lupe descubrirá las revelaciones a Santa Margarita María de Alacoque y conocerá a santos, asesinos, exorcistas, papas, presidentes, conspiradores…, así como milagros y crímenes. Al hilo de su investigación, Lupe irá descubriendo también los secretos de su propio corazón, afligido por viejas heridas que necesitan ser sanadas.”

Esta es una película para la familia. En tiempos de necesidad material, de paz y espiritual en todas las comunidades, la consagración a los corazones de Jesús y María se hace más fuerte.

Iliana Salmerón Hall, feligresa de St. Francis Madison, católica y devota del Corazón de Jesús, se ha convertido en la líder del grupo, que en Mississippi, está promoviendo la puesta en la gran pantalla de esta película, producida y promovida por el Festival Internacional de Cine Católico El filme ya ha estado en los cines de diferentes países. En 2020 fue galardonada con el “Grand Prix” del “Niepokalana 2020”, XXXV Festival Internacional de Cine Católico en Polonia.

Gaby Jácoba, directora del Festival Internacional de Cine Católico y promotora del filme, ha estado en contacto con Iliana y las dos están muy entusiasmadas con la oferta que hacen por primera vez a los católicos de Mississippi. El filme es en español con subtítulos en inglés.

Iliana, proveniente de California, trabaja en Jackson dando clases y conferencias promoviendo oportunidades de negocios y de administración de finanzas personales para la comunidad Hispana.
Iliana espera una buena acogida de la película y celebra la oportunidad de ofrecer la primera producción católica en español en Mississippi a todos los católicos de la región, especialmente a todos los devotos del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús.

La pelicula ha sido promovida a traves de redes sociales. Para más información sobre la película visite las páginas de Facebook.

Cookbook for Lent offers much more than just delicious recipes

By Nancy L. Roberts (CNS)
The Lenten Cookbook” by David Geisser and Scott Hahn. Sophia Institute Press (Manchester, New Hampshire, 2022). 224 pp., $29.95.

Just in time for the penitential season of Lent, this beautifully written and illustrated guide features 75 delectable international recipes. Ranging from breakfast dishes, soups and salads, to main dishes, breads and desserts, they honor distinctive Catholic Lenten traditions.

This is the book cover of “The Lenten Cookbook” by David Geisser and Scott Hahn. The book is reviewed by Nancy L. Roberts. (CNS photo/courtesy Sophia Institute Press)

Eggplant salad, snow pea curry with prawns, spelt-nut bread and ginger broth with noodles are among many recipes that don’t contain meat, eggs, milk products or alcohol. The many full-color photos of various dishes are tantalizing.

All of the book’s recipes are newly developed by David Geisser, an award-winning chef and former Pontifical Swiss Guard who has written several cookbooks including “The Vatican Cookbook.” Here he includes many meatless dishes, such as cottage cheese frittata with cucumber and radish dip and lentil and eggplant moussaka.

There is even a list of substitutions for those who wish.
For instance, buttermilk can be replaced by adding 1 teaspoon of vinegar to any of the milk substitutes (such as plain soy, almond, rice or oat milks). For eggs, several substitutes include hydrated flax meal or chia seeds, 1/4 cup of applesauce and 1/4 cup of pureed silken tofu.

But this is much more than a cookbook.

Along with five variations for the Lenten hot cross bun recipe, we learn that they are traditionally eaten on Good Friday: “The cross etched on the top of the buns symbolically ties it to Christ’s crucifixion, while the raisins often used in the recipe symbolize the spices used in the embalming of Christ’s body for burial.”
This is but a small sample of the engaging essays contributed by Scott Hahn, a well-known biblical scholar who has written or edited more than 40 books. Here he covers the history of fasting and its place in modern practice.

You may be surprised to learn that “fasting wasn’t invented by Christians (or Jews, for that matter) but is a universal human practice that the Lord and his church have sanctified.”

And, Hahn writes, “Fasting does improve our relationship with the divine, but it’s the loving, triune God of the Bible, not the cranky, man-made gods of ancient times, or even the gods of fitness, to whom we must dedicate our sacrifices.”
Historically, Christian fasting has been tied to particular days or seasons of the year and is “meant to be shared by entire Christian communities rather than invented by individuals to meet their own needs.”

Today while the tradition of liturgical fasting has faded in many regions, in some locales it still has a powerful cultural impact.

Indeed, “in parts of the country with significant Catholic heritage, major fast-food chains promote fish sandwiches during Lent,” Hahn observes. “This is a vestige of a real, living Catholic culture, one that transforms spiritual truths into embodied realities.”

Both a cookbook and a guide to Lenten history and practices, this well-designed and edited book encourages personal spiritual growth through the rediscovery of Lent.

Occasional Scripture verses and quotes from the saints enrich it, along with inspiring reproductions of classic paintings such as Millet’s “The Angelus” and Raphael’s “Disputation of the Sacrament.” Any Catholic will find much of interest here.

(Roberts is a journalism professor at the State University of New York at Albany who has written/co-edited two books about Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker.)

Teams vie for the annual Bishop’s Cup

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Twenty-two teams from across the diocese vying for the coveted Bishop’s Cup trophy met at the Lake Caroline Golf Club in Madison on Thursday, Sept. 16 for the 39th annual Bishop’s Cup golf tournament.

After a day of golf, teams gathered for an awards dinner and silent auction at the Mermaid Café. “Though we believe all of our golfers are of first place quality. I was happy to announce that the winning team was sponsored by BankFirst and represented by Annunciation Catholic Church in Columbus,” said Rebecca Harris, executive director of The Catholic Foundation. “We truly appreciate all the silent auction sponsors that also helped raise funds for a wonderful cause and brought some extra competition to the event at the close of the tournament.”

The wonderful cause Harris mentions refers to the Bishop Joseph N. Latino Memorial Trust. This year proceeds from the tournament helped raise funds for the trust, which will help fund grant projects proposed by parishes, schools and organizations around the diocese. “Bishop Latino believed in helping others and he would be excited to know that many projects across the diocese will be supported each year with this grant,” said Harris.

The 39th annual Bishop’s Cup was sponsored by: St. Dominic Health Services, Inc.; Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC; Citizens National Bank; Rusty and Yvonne Haydel; BankFirst; Capital Glass; BankPlus; Homeland Title; Community Bank; Irene Jones; Ken and Maetta Lefoldt; Matthews Cutrer & Lindsay, CPAs; Mike and Diane Pumphrey; Raymond James; Regions Bank; Tico’s Steak House; Trustmark National Bank; Benchmark Construction; Friends of Father Patrick Noonan; Old River Companies; and Chris and Laura Walters.

“On behalf of The Catholic Foundation, I would like to thank all of our golf tournament sponsors for helping to make the day such a huge success. We invite all to join us in 2022 to celebrate the 40th annual Bishop’s Cup,” said Harris.

MADISON – Father Gerry Hurley and the team from St. Paul Flowood compete at the 39th Bishop’s Cup at Lake Caroline. (Photo by Brandi Fournet)