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Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009

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Sophie
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/28 23:46:53 (permalink)

http://www.patriciabrintle.com/collection-1.html

March 25 is the birthday of Catherine of Siena,
Saint, Doctor of the Church and woman who discerned in
herself a calling to priesthood. 
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/28 23:49:12 (permalink)

Saint Catherine of Siena
 
Born March 25 in 1347 - Catherine of Siena teacher, nurse, writer, spiritual advisor, mystic, saint, voice of conscience, scholastic philosopher, theologian, Church reformer, one of thirty three Doctors of the Church and woman who spoke about her calling to priesthood

In 1970, the Roman Catholic Church declared two women saints to be Doctors of the Church: Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) and Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). Both were of a mystical bent, and their writings are available on the web today. (A third woman was added as Doctor of the Church in 1977: Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.)
 
Catherine of Siena was born into a large family, and many of her male relatives were public officials or went into the priesthood. She was the 25th child of her father, and was given to visions from early childhood. At 16 she became a Dominican tertiary.
 
She never learned to write and she had no formal education, dictating her letters and other writings to secretaries. The best known of her writings is The Dialogue, a series of theological treatises on doctrine written with a combination of logical precision and heart-felt emotion.
 
Her assertive and confrontational letters to bishops and popes as well as her commitment to direct service to the sick and the poor have made Catherine a role model for a more worldly and active spirituality. Dorothy Day credits reading a biography of Catherine as a major influence in her life on the way to founding the Catholic Worker Movement.
 
Her religious writings and good works (and perhaps her well-connected family or her tutor Raymond of Capua) brought her to the attention of Pope Gregory XI, still at Avignon, and Catherine as well as St. Bridget of Sweden are credited with persuading him to return to Rome in 1377. Later, in the Great Western Schism, she assertively supported Pope Urban VI and wrote strong and critical letters to those who supported the Anti-Pope.

She died at 33 -- in Raymond of Capua's hagiography of Catherine (hagiography: a biography of a saint, usually written as a demonstration of her or his saintliness), it is noted that this is the age at which Mary Magdalene, a special role model for Catherine, died. I would note that it is also the age at which Jesus was crucified. She was canonized by Pius II in 1461. 
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/28 23:50:18 (permalink)
Dear friends,

St. Catherine of Siena, a lay woman, teacher, nurse, writer, spiritual advisor, mystic, saint, voice of conscience, scholastic philosopher, theologian, Church reformer, one of thirty three Doctors of the Church... and woman who spoke about her calling to priesthood stands as a stellar model of courage in the work for women's ordination. In her life of prayer, courage and sacrifice, she has mentored Christian women down the ages. She identified in herself a vocation to sacramental ministry as a priest.


St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)
Icon by Brother Robert Lenz, ofm
 
Catherine worked as a nurse among the sick of Siena. She became renowned as a peacemaker and was able to mediate between squabbling individuals, families, political factions and even city states. A group of disciples gathered around her. As she traveled through Italy, crowds came to meet her, and many changed their lives for the better.
 
The last years of her life were devoted to trying to re-establish peace in the Roman church. Several weeks before her death as she was praying before a mosaic in the original St. Peter’s Basilica, she saw Peter’s fishing boat leave the mosaic and land on her shoulder. It crushed her to the ground and she had to be carried home. She was virtually paralyzed until her death on April 29, 1380. 

The ship depicted in the icon above is a symbol of how the papacy -- St. Peter’s ministry -- had been changed by the medieval papacy. As Catherine carries the ship, so did her prayers carry the hierarchy of her time. Today she is known as the patron for all those who feel crushed by religious institutions, as well as a great teacher for those drawn to a life of mystical prayer.

 
Among several articles in our library about Catherine are the following two:

  • St. Catherine of Siena,  an excerpt from Raymund of Capua's biography of her life, The Life of St. Catherine of Siena. Raymund was Catherine's spiritual director.  His writings record her calling to priesthood.  The article is here: http://www.womenpriests.org/called/siena.asp
  • Catharina Broomé's ‘The Priestly Vocation of Thérèse of the Child Jesus’.  Although the title suggests singular focus on Therese of Lisieux, Broome includes plenty of discussion about all three of our women doctors... including Catherine of Siena. Broome aptly notes, "A long tradition was broken when, within a short period of time, three women were named Doctors of the Church."  Her  article is insightful in many respects. She:

    • looks at our women Doctors as spiritual authorities
    • highlights some of their writings
    • takes a look at Teresa, Catherine and Therese's vocational callings
    • explores how both Catherine and Therese strongly and clearly expressed their callings to be priests
    • examines some of the qualities that distinguish a Doctor of the Church
Please enjoy.  St. Catherine is with us!  Please pray for us, our work and our Church!
 
with love and blessings,
 
~Sophie~
Sophie
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/28 23:51:05 (permalink)
Catherine of Siena
Born March 25, 1347
 
Saint Catherine of Siena, O.P. (March 25, 1347 - April 29, 1380) was a Tertiary (a lay affiliate) of the Dominican Order, and a scholastic philosopher and theologian. She was born into a prosperous urban family, her parents being Giacomo di Benincasa, a cloth-dyer, and Lapa Piagenti, a daughter of a local poet. She was their 23rd child out of 25 (Catherine’s twin sister, the 24th, died at birth).


St. Catherine of Siena.
Detail of a work by Domenico Beccafumi, c. 1515

Life
 
A native of Siena, Catherine received no formal education. At the age of seven she consecrated her virginity to Christ despite her family's opposition. Her parents wanted her to live a normal life and marry, but against her parents' will, she dedicated her life to praying, meditating and living in total solitude into her late teens. At the age of sixteen, she took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries. She truly shows beatitudes, such as "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

Catherine dedicated her life to helping the ill and the poor, where she took care of them in hospitals or homes. She rounded up a group of followers, both women and men, and traveled with them along Northern Italy where they asked for a reform of the clergy, the launch of a new crusade and advised people that repentance and renewal could be done through "the total love for God." Catherine also dedicated her life to the study of religious texts.

In about 1366, Catherine experienced what she described in her letters as a 'Mystical Marriage' with Jesus, after which she began to tend the sick and serve the poor. In 1370 she received a series of visions of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, after which she heard a command to leave her withdrawn life and enter the public life of the world. Being illiterate, she dictated several letters to men and women in authority, especially begging for peace between the republics and principalities of Italy and for the return of the papacy from Avignon to Rome. She carried on a long correspondence with Pope Gregory XI, also asking him to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States.

In June of 1376 Catherine went to Avignon herself as ambassador of Florence to make peace with the Papal States, but was unsuccessful. She had tried to convince Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome, the rightful capital of the papacy. (Hollister 343) She impressed the Pope so much that he returned his administration to Rome in January of 1377. During the Western Schism of 1378 she was an adherent of Pope Urban VI, who summoned her to Rome, and stayed at Pope Urban VI's court and tried to convince nobles and cardinals of his legitimacy. She lived in Rome until her death in 1380. The problems of the Western Schism would trouble her until the end of her life.

Catherine's letters are considered one of the great works of early Tuscan literature. More than 300 letters have survived. In her letters to the Pope, she often referred to him affectionately as "Papa" or "Daddy" ("Babbo" in Italian). Her major work is the Dialogue of Divine Providence.

Catherine died of a stroke in the spring of 1380 in Rome. She died at the age of thirty-three, the same age at which Jesus Christ died. The people of Siena wished to have her body. There is a myth that explains how Catherine's head was able to get to Siena. The people of Siena knew they could not get her whole body past Roman guards and decided to take only her head which they placed in a bag. They were still stopped by guards and they prayed to Catherine to help them because they knew Catherine would rather be in Siena. When they opened the bag to show the guards it no longer held her head, but was full of rose petals. Once they got back to Siena they reopened the bag and her head reappeared. Because of this myth, Catherine is often seen holding a rose.

Posthumous recognition
 
Pope Pius II canonized Catherine in 1461. Her feast day was not included in the Tridentine Calendar. When it was later added to the Roman Calendar, it was put on  April 30 (see General Roman Calendar as in 1954 and General Roman Calendar of 1962). When the calendar was revised in 1969, her feast was put on April 29, the day of her death. Other Christians, including Lutherans, have chosen to commemorate her on that same day.

Pope Paul VI gave her the title of Doctor of the Church in 1970 - making her the first woman, along with Saint Teresa of Ávila, ever to receive this honor. In 1999 Pope John Paul II made her one of Europe's patron saints.
She is the patron saint of Italy along with Francis of Assisi.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_of_Siena
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/29 00:07:36 (permalink)

Saint Margaret Clitherow
 
Saint Margaret Clitherow
Woman Martyr
Feastday March 26
 
Saint Margaret Clitherow (1556 - 1586) is an English saint and martyr. She is sometimes called "the Pearl of York".

Life
 
She was born as Margaret Middleton, the daughter of a wax-chandler, after Henry VIII of England had split the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. She married John Clitherow, a butcher, in 1571 (at the age of 15) and bore him two children. She converted to Roman Catholicism at the age of 18, in 1574. She then became a friend of the persecuted Roman Catholic population in the north of England. Her son, Henry, went to Reims to train as a priest. She regularly held Masses in her home in the Shambles in York. There was a hole cut between the attics of her house and the house next door, so that a priest could escape if there was a raid. A house in the Shambles once thought to have been her home, now called the Shrine of the Saint Margaret Clitherow, is open to the public.  Her actual house (10 and 11, the Shambles) is further down the street.

Martyrdom
 
In 1586, she was arrested and called before the York assizes for the crime of harbouring Roman Catholic priests. She refused to plead to the case so as to prevent a trial that would entail her children being made to testify, and she was executed by being crushed to death – the standard punishment for refusal to plead. On Good Friday of 1586, she was laid out upon a sharp rock, and a door was put on top of her and loaded with an immense weight of rocks and stones. Death occurred within fifteen minutes.

Canonization
 
She was canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI along with other martyrs from England and Wales. The group of candidates canonized at that time is commonly called "The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Clitherow 
post edited by Sophie - 2009/03/29 00:18:08
Sophie
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/29 00:15:35 (permalink)


Dear friends, 

The martyrdom of Margaret Clitherow -- implications for women's ordination? Throughout the Church’s history, women no less than men, have witnessed to their Christian faith unto death. According to ancient tradition, men or women on the way to martyrdom had the power to forgive sins. The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (3rd cent) states that any ‘confessor’ imprisoned for faith automatically attained the rank of presbyter (priest) in the Roman communities.

Sts. Irenaeus (2nd cent) and Cyprian (3rd cent) apply this ‘power of martyrdom’ equally to women confessors. Women too shared in the power of the keys, binding and loosening on behalf of Christ.

Women, just as do men, belong in Holy Orders.

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/29 00:23:13 (permalink)
The holy women of York
Hild, Margaret Clitherow and Mary Ward possessed remarkable vision and character
By Dana Greene
The National Catholic Reporter
January 25, 2008

After London, York is England’s most visited city, and with reason. It is beautiful, historic and bustling, a port city of some 180,000 people built at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss. Tourists pour in to admire York’s Gothic Minster, the largest in northern Europe, and its massive walls, first constructed by the Romans, offer a three-mile treetop view of ancient ruins and a thriving metropolis. Entering the city through one of its many gates or “bars,” one finds the Shambles, a medieval commercial lane, next to Marks & Spencer, the popular British retailer, and the remains of the 16th-century Benedictine abbey of St. Mary’s a few paces from the city’s modern archaeological museum. Cheek by jowl, old and new coexist, offering those with eyes to see the opportunity to enter the past and encounter the treasures buried there.
 
For Catholics the treasures of York are many. Throughout its long history, it was the most Catholic of English cities. An early center of Christian faith, it was also home to recusants, those 16th-century Catholics who resisted both Anglicanism and Puritan authority. In the lore of the city and its archaeological remains, one finds buried three Catholic women who continue to be revered. Although their circumstances and contributions differ, each lived at a time of peril and tumult, and each shaped a life that was wise and prophetic. These holy women of York not only offer access to the city’s rich history, but inspiration for all those living in perilous and tumultuous times.
 
 
St. Hilda of Whitby

The most distant of the three is Hild(a), who is commemorated in York’s Minster where she was baptized. She spent most of her life at the edge of the shire in Whitby. Today, Whitby is a resort town, its main attractions being an early home of Capt. James Cook and the ruins of the abbey Hild founded in the seventh century, which perch on a bluff facing the blustery North Sea. What is known of this extraordinary woman, abbess of a double monastery of women and men, comes from the historian Venerable Bede, who chronicled the development of the early English church, including the contributions of this woman called “Mother” by all who knew and revered her.

After the end of invasions by Angles and Saxons, the early church faced a triple threat: continued jockeying for power among local political forces; the need to evangelize non-Christian peoples, and divisions within the nascent Christian church itself. Hild met each of these challenges.

Renowned for her wisdom, she was sought out by kings and princes who came to her for advice and in the process became supporters. Attuned to the pressing need to spread the Gospel, Hild nurtured missionary efforts, encouraging the genius of Caedmon, a cowherd turned poet-monk, who put scripture to poetry in order to evangelize the folk. The lyricism of Caedmon spread Christianity, ensuring his fame as first among English poets.

It was within Hild’s monastery that the Synod of Whitby was convened in 664. While the issue at hand seems arcane to the contemporary mind, the outcome of the synod was important for the unity of the Christian church. In this early context, the divisions between Celtic Christianity, emanating from Iona, and Roman Christianity were still pronounced. The immediate issue was how to compute the date for the celebration of Easter.

Although Hild herself probably favored a Celtic computation, the issue was decided in favor of Rome and the threatened division between rival factions was averted. Hild died in 680, having suffered illness for many years.

The English church grew stronger in the early Middle Ages even as it endured the invasions of Vikings and Normans and the consolidation of political power by ambitious monarchs. With the ascension of the Tudors, however, the independence of the church was challenged, first by Henry VIII, and then by Elizabeth. The wealthy monasteries of York were closed, and the Anglican church was established. Catholicism in the north was resistant to these changes, and the suffering endured by York’s papists was considerable.
 
Saint Margaret of Clitherow

That suffering is graphically illustrated in the life of Margaret Clitherow, wife of a prosperous butcher who lived in a house on the Shambles near Newgate Market. As a convert to Catholicism, Margaret refused to attend Protestant services and aided the remnant Catholic community by hiding fugitive priests in her home and allowing Mass to be said there. Found guilty of violating the Penal Laws, she was fined, imprisoned for two years, and finally sentenced to death. She was 30 years old and the mother of three. Stripped, and then pressed until she suffocated, “the pearl of York,” as she was called, became the first Catholic woman to be martyred by the Tudor government. Others would follow. Today, with the din of the cobbled Shambles in the background, one can stop and remember Margaret Clitherow in the small chapel in what is reputed to be her 16th-century home. A relic of her body is housed in St. Mary’s Convent elsewhere in the city.

In death, both Hild and Margaret Clitherow are revered as saints. This was not to be for Mary Ward, even though her prophetic vision and suffering matched that of her Yorkshire sisters.
 
Mary Ward

Beautiful and of prominent lineage, Mary Ward was destined for marriage but refused it, ultimately persuading her parents to allow her to clandestinely travel to Belgium where she could enter the convent as a lay sister of the Poor Clares. She was miserable until the benediction of a religious superior finally released her from her vows. Mary Ward’s vision was to found a new community in which women religious would be free of enclosure, free to establish schools for poor girls, free of monastic restrictions and free from jurisdiction of local ecclesial authority. In the 17th century, this vision was preposterous. Nonetheless, Mary Ward, age 24, persisted. She surreptitiously returned to England to recruit followers to her Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and with them traveled to the continent where she established a number of schools. She developed a rule modeled on the newly established Jesuit order and then began petitioning the papacy for recognition, one time even walking 1,500 miles from Brussels to Rome to do so.

Ultimately thwarted in her efforts, she wrote of her “long loneliness” as she endured suspicion, rejection, betrayal, condemnation and imprisonment, not by secular powers but by the church she served.

Secular clergy condemned her as the leader of Jesuitical ladies. The Jesuits withdrew their initial support. Jealousy within the institute resulted in betrayal, and years of petitioning the papacy for recognition came to nothing. In fact, in 1631 Urban VIII suppressed the “pernicious” institute, imprisoned Mary Ward, and condemned her as “heretic, schismatic and rebel against holy church.”

Finally released, she returned to England where she had the support of the Catholic Queen Henrietta Maria. But Cromwell’s army soon gained control of England, engulfing the country in war and besieging York, where Mary Ward had taken refuge. She died in 1645, a seeming failure.

Vindication of her life and work was slow in coming. In 1703, suppression of the institute finally was removed, and in 1909 she was acclaimed its founder. Belatedly, in 1951, Pius XII acknowledged Mary Ward as “that incomparable woman given to the church by England in its most somber and bloodstained years.”

The shards of Mary Ward’s prophetic life are scattered throughout the city of York. A stone in the Anglican church in nearby Osbaldwick indicates she is buried there in an unmarked grave. The Bar Convent at Mickelgate, home of the Mary Ward nuns, the oldest active convent in England, offers visitors hospitality for body and soul, and the convent’s museum chronicles the history of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the splendid irony of Mary Ward’s life.

If one travels light, is equipped with imagination, and wants to find inspiration in the past, the city of York offers the visitor the opportunity to become a pilgrim. Like other pilgrims through the ages, the contemporary seeker can uncover in this most Catholic of English cities the inspiration of holy women who triumphed in perilous and chaotic times.
 
Dana Greene is director of the Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University.
National Catholic Reporter, January 25, 2008
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/29 00:28:34 (permalink)
 

Born on March 28 in 1515 - Saint Teresa of Avila, mystic, writer, spiritual advisor, theologian, Church reformer, one of thirty three Doctors of the Church, Spanish Carmelite nun.
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/29 00:31:37 (permalink)

 
Saint Teresa of Avila
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/29 00:31:49 (permalink)
Born on March 28 in 1515 - Saint Teresa of Avila, mystic, writer, spiritual advisor, theologian, Church reformer, one of thirty three Doctors of the Church, Spanish Carmelite nun

Teresa lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social and religious upheaval. It was the 16th century, a time of turmoil and reform. Her life began with the culmination of the Protestant Reformation, and ended shortly after the Council of Trent.

The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold: She was a woman; she was a contemplative; she was an active reformer.

As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man's world of her time. She was "her own woman," entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father. She is a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery. Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human. Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer. A holy woman, a womanly woman.

Teresa was a woman "for God," a woman of prayer, discipline and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Her own conversion was no overnight affair; it was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. She was misunderstood, misjudged, opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical and graceful. A woman of prayer; a woman for God.

Teresa was a woman "for others." Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She traveled, wrote, fought—always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life.

In 1970 the Church gave her the title she had long held in the popular mind: Doctor of the Church. She and St. Catherine of Siena were the first women so honored.

Comment:

Today we live in a time of turmoil, a time of reform and a time of liberation. Modern women have in Teresa a challenging example. Promoters of renewal, promoters of prayer, all have in Teresa a woman to reckon with, one whom they can admire and imitate.

Quote:

Teresa knew well the continued presence and value of suffering (physical illness, opposition to reform, difficulties in prayer), but she grew to be able to embrace suffering, even desire it: "Lord, either to suffer or to die." Toward the end of her life she exclaimed: "Oh, my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value."
http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/SaintOfDay/default.asp?id=1169
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/29 00:32:35 (permalink)
St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church 



St. Teresa of Avila - 1515-1582
Doctor of the Church - 1970
 
Teresa of Avila was a major figure of the Catholic Reformation, prominent Spanish mystic, writer and monastic reformer, provides a role model for women today who work for reform in the Church. A challenging example, she invites us to 'step up to the plate' as did she. She was a woman to reckon with.  She is our sister in Christ.

One of the greatest spiritual teachers the church, she wrote four major books about prayer and left three volumes of letters.  In her time and culture, women were expected to be quiet and obey men. The Inquisition held Spain in its grip, and the Roman Catholic Church was reacting to the Protestant movement by entrenching itself in rigid orthodoxy. Into this darkness Christ brought light through this woman who loved him passionately. Christ answered her love with gifts of leadership and great insight. Teresa life was influenced by the mix of many cultures -- Christians, Muslims and Jews had lived together in Spain for centuries. In the first icon above, by Brother Robert Lentz, ofm the blue Moorish tiles form stars of David in the background bearing witness to her Jewish ancestry and the rich spiritual heritage of the east. Her grandfather, Juan Sanchez, had been punished by the Catholic Inquisition as a secret Jew.  
 
Teresa herself was an object of examination by the Inquisition.  She was investigated by the Church for heresy.  She was a reformer during a time when the Church was openly persecuting any activity that was 'non-hierarchical' or in any way heretical.  Her encounters with the Inquisition forced her to develop strategies to deal with the male hierarchy and the suspicion of mysticism during her time. She was misunderstood, misjudged, opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful.  She struggled with her own mediocrity, illness, and opposition from others. In the midst of all this, she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical and graceful. 

Teresa lived in the 16th century -- an age of exploration, political, social and religious upheaval and reform in both society and the Church. Her life began with the culmination of the Protestant Reformation and ended shortly after the Council of Trent.  She left her mark on the Church and the world. She was a woman. She was a contemplative. She was an active reformer.

She stood on her own two feet even in the man's world of her time. Talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, like Christ, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer. She was a woman of prayer, discipline, compassion and courage. Her own conversion was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. The force of Teresa's personality helped her to not only to survive but to reform and improve the Church.

Though a contemplative, she spent time and energy seeking to reform herself, the Carmelites and also the Church. She founded over seventeen convents and monasteries. She traveled, wrote, fought—always to renew and reform. She was a woman who inspired and gave life.  

In a modern biography, Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul, author Catherine Medwick describes Teresa as 'a soul in progress towards God,'  both a sensuous, sexual woman and a spiritual leader.  She argues that Teresa is a feminist icon "not only because she came to represent the missing link between female sexuality and spirituality, but also because of her ability to function with a male dominated hierarchy.' Teresa battled with corrupt Church officials.  She was also plagued with many challenges and difficulties presented by Church authorities who resisted her efforts to establish new and reformed monasteries.

Although it was not until 1970 that official Rome bestowed  on her the title, Doctor of the Church, that she was a spiritual giant was long before known in the sensus fidelium -- the sense of the faithful. 

St. Teresa and St. Catherine of Siena were the first two of  only three women to be honoured  as Doctors of our our Church.
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/30 05:56:34 (permalink)
  
                    Therese of Lisieux                                                  Catherine of Siena                                                  Teresa of Avila
 
                                                   
 
Dear friends,
 
The women Doctors of the Church and women's ordination?  Two out of three women Doctors of the Church struggled with vocational callings to priesthood.
 
In her article, ‘The Priestly Vocation of Thérèse of the Child Jesus’, well known lecturer, writer and preacher based in Stockholm, Sweden Catherina Broome, OP takes a closer look at the women Doctors of the Catholic Church: Therese of Lisieux, Teresa of Avila, and Catherine of Siena. Broome's highlights include:
  • our women Doctors as spiritual authorities
  • some of their writings
  • an examination of their vocational callings
  • an analysis of the fact that both Therese and Catherine so strongly and clearly expressed their callings to be priests.
The article follows. If you have any questions, please let me know.

With love and blessings,

~Sophie~
 
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The Priestly Vocation of Therese of Lisieux
Catherina Broome, OP

A long tradition was broken when, within a short period of time, three women were named Doctors of the Church. The first people to receive this particular title were Augustine, Ambrose, Gregory the Great and Jerome, who were seen in some respects as parallels to the four evangelists.(1)

Women as spiritual authorities: They have been followed by many others. Throughout the years there have, of course, also been a small number of women theologians and prophets in whom the Church has recognised the voice of the Holy Spirit and who have been acknowledged as spiritual authorities. Before our century, however, it had not been conceivable that a woman too could be given such a specifically 'male' title as Doctor of the Church. In the 19th century it was still considered self-evident that titles such as preacher, priest, doctor of the church, were reserved for men. If anyone at that time had suggested giving the title of Doctor of the Church to a woman, there would certainly have been arguments found against it both in the Bible and from tradition. Through the workings of the Holy Spirit, however, there are now three women Doctors of the Church. A common characteristic of all three is a burning love for the Church and zeal for the salvation of souls. All three have also experienced pain at not being able to fully realise their apostolic vocation. They make us consider the question of the actual nature of vocation. How can God give the same calling to both men and women in the Church but only allow one of the genders the right to fulfil that calling? There are today many women who feel called to the priesthood. They are sometimes scoffed at and made to look ridiculous. Hopefully that tendency can be counteracted through a closer study of our three women Doctors of the Church and what they have to say to us about their vocation.

Catherine and Thérèse: It is an interesting fact that two of these three women Doctors of the Church, Catherine of Siena and Thérèse of the Child Jesus, clearly stated their desire to become priests. As far as Teresa of Avila is concerned, we find no mention of this but here and there in her writings there are reflections which bear witness to a controlled sorrow over the fact that a woman does not have the same opportunity as a man to work for the Church. For example, in her first version of The Way of Perfection (ch 3) Teresa complains to the Lord about the way women are treated: "as if we couldn't do anything worthwhile for you in public and not even be able to put a finger on the sensitive point that we wept over in secret". It is always men who are the judges here on earth, she writes, and they have little faith in women's capabilities and virtues. She finishes by saying: "... when I see what the times are like, I feel it is not right to repel spirits which are virtuous and brave, even though they be the spirits of women"(2).

With regard to Catherine of Siena, her confessor, the Blessed Raymond of Capua, relates in his biography of his penitent who was also his friend and teacher – how Catherine's apostolic vocation expressed itself in her desire to join the Order of Preachers (Dominicans, an order of priests). She did not have a vocation to be a nun, but seriously considered dressing as a man, so that she could fulfil her vocation and be accepted as one of the brothers, but she came to realise that such an attempt would never succeed. It should be noted that Raymond, who was an educated theologian and trained in the study of the Bible, has nothing to say against Catherine's desire to be a priest but has complete understanding for it and finds it inspiring. Besides, God made her to be a preacher, teacher and director of souls in other ways.

Thérèse’s priestly vocation: Thérèse of Lisieux, on the other hand, is the one who most often and clearly spoke of her priestly vocation. It remained with her until the end of her life and it was, at the end, in this vocation that she found the deepest explanation for her early death. In contrast to her great predecessor Teresa of Avila, Thérèse of Lisieux does not complain of being born a woman; her vocation is what it is regardless. It is her 'littleness' and nothing else that causes her to choose another way. When she speaks about her littleness and her limitations, it has nothing to do with the fact that she is a woman. On the contrary, she sees her "little way" in faith and confidence as a way for every Christian.

Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila and Thérèse of Lisieux were in one respect "uneducated". They had not received any higher education (but neither had any parish priest during the Middle Ages). But as far as their religious education went it was different. One should not get the impression that they wrote their works purely from intuition, as it were. All three had a burning interest in the Scriptures and religious writings and they were all thoroughly knowledgeable in matters of faith. For example, when one reads Catherine's The Book of Divine Providence (also known as The Dialogue) it is clear, as a member of the third order of Dominicans, she had received basic teaching in Thomistic theology. She was acquainted with highly educated men, her closest friend being Raymond of Capua, later to become Master of the Dominican Order. She had had the opportunity to listen to their lectures, and it must have been a joy for them to have the chance to teach this gifted woman.

Thérèse’s love of the Bible: In the same way, through books, conversations and lectures the two Carmelites developed their theological competence. Their knowledge of the scriptures was by no means superficial. Ida Friederike Gorres, one of the first to do a systematic in-depth study of Thérèse’s life and spirituality, dwelt especially on Thérèse's love of the Bible before all other books. She knew the gospels almost completely by heart. In her letters and other writings she also quoted constantly from other books of the Old and New Testaments, made notes, compared, marked concordance passages, and so on. "She did not know Latin and had to be satisfied with the French translation," writes Gorres, "and she longed to be a priest and read the Bible in its original language 'to understand the divine thought just as God himself wanted to express it in our human language'"(3).

It is worth noting that the title Doctor of the Church is in fact an acknowledgement of a person's familiarity with the Holy Scriptures as well as the teachings and traditions of the Church. One cannot put Thérèse’s expressed priestly vocation down to the fact that she was ignorant of what is said in the Bible on this issue or of what tradition has to say, or that it was a childish pious wish. Thérèse’s language can give an impression of childishness and sentimentality, but appearances are deceptive. All studies of her writings - and there are hundreds of them - have shown the theological strength of her thinking.

The vocation of Thérèse of the Child Jesus: As we have seen Thérèse of Lisieux has spoken clearly of her calling to the priesthood, and so we shall remain with her and look more closely at some of her texts. This is not indeed to be a systematic discussion of all that she has written, but only evidence of how important her vocation was to her. The heart of the autobiography of Thérèse of the Child Jesus, that which gives us the key to her spirituality, is where she describes her vocation (manuscript B). "To be Your Spouse, to be a Carmelite, and by my union with You to be the Mother of souls, should not this suffice me? And yet it is not so. No doubt, these three privileges sum up my true vocation: Carmelite, Spouse, Mother, and yet I feel within me other vocations. I feel the vocation of the warrior, the priest, the apostle, the doctor, the martyr. Finally, I feel the need and the desire of carrying out the most heroic deeds for You, O Jesus. I feel within my soul the courage of the Crusader, the Papal Guard, and I would want to die on the field of battle in defense of the Church. I feel in me the vocation of the priest" (4) - Thérèse realises, of course, that she cannot be all this. The reason is that she is "too little". "Is there a soul more little, more powerless than mine?" "Jesus, I am too little to perform great actions"(ibid).

Desiring to be a priest: In spite of all this she does not relinquish the thought of her vocation. It lives forcefully within her. To her sister Marie of the Sacred Heart she writes: "I feel in me the vocation of the priest. With what love, O Jesus, I would carry You in my hands when, at my voice, You would come down from heaven. And with what love would I give You to souls! But alas! While desiring to be a Priest, I admire and envy the humility of St Francis of Assisi and I feel the vocation of imitating him in refusing the sublime dignity of the Priesthood."

Thérèse was a realist. She had to give up the idea of becoming a priest even though she so deeply desired it. She chose to abstain from the priesthood willingly. This was always her way. She was a very free person and instead of suffering under compulsion she freely chose to accept that which she could not change (5). In her attitude she was like her Master who laid down his life. "No one takes it from me; I lay down of my own free will, and as I have power to lay it down, so I have power to take it up again; and this is the command I have received from my Father" (Jn 10:18). Thérèse 'abstained' from becoming a priest but chose at the same time a path that would allow her to fulfil the vocation that was impossible to her by other means. The Church was made up of many different limbs, each with its own function. The most central organ in the body is the heart, the seat of love. Thérèse decided to be the heart, to take up Love as her appointed work. "Charity gave me the key to my vocation. ...I understood that love comprised all vocations, that love was everything." With this liberating discovery Thérèse found not only her own path but also a way for all Christians, for all "little souls" who like herself burn with a longing to do that which is beyond their powers, their possibilities and strengths. Thérèse’s discovery made her an innovator and spiritual guide of great stature.

FOOTNOTES

1. These four have been recognised as 'Doctors of the Church' since the 8th century. Boniface VIII wanted to make this precise and liturgical in 1295. Since the 9th century there has been an equivalent rank in the Eastern Church where a feast is celebrated on January 30th in honour ‘of the three hierarchs’ and ecumenical Doctors' Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrysostomos.

2. This sentence is crossed out in the manuscript. It is given in a footnote in critical editions. It is included in the text as given here in the English translation of E. Allison Peers, Doubleday (Image Book) 1964.


3. Ida Friederike Görres, Das verborgene Antlitz. Eine Studie über Therese von Lisieux. (Aufl. Freiburg 1947 S.314)

4. The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux. Manuscript B, September 8, 1896 trans. John Clarke, O.C.D. ICS Publications, Washington, D.C 1996 (p 190-200) In spite of all this she does

5. During the evening meditation she had her place in front of a sister who had the habit of making a strange and irritating noise. Instead of being annoyed and trying not to hear the noise Therese decided to listen to it 'as though it were a delightful concern,' and she offered the 'concern' to Jesus as her prayer (ibid., pp 249-250). There are several examples of Therese's way of transforming annoyances and irritations into a freely chosen pleasure.


*This article first appeared in
Spirituality (May-June 2000), a publication of the Irish Dominicans.
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/30 06:36:30 (permalink)
 
Pope John Paul II
Gianni Giansanti / Polaris 



Dear friends, 

In its October 15, 1976 Declaration Inter Insigniores, the Vatican made its first attempt to definitively set out reasons to justify its ban on women priests. The reasons were not convincing.  In 1994, Pope John Paul II issued his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis -- said by some to be infallible teaching -- reserving priestly ordination to men alone. Given these statements from the Vatican, legitimate questions are asked about our work for women's ordination:
  • If Pope John Paul II has ruled out the possibility of women's ordination, how is it that we are here today advancing the case for women's ordination? 
  • Is there a legitimate case to be made for women priests?
  • If so, what is it?

Our Team at www.womenpriests.org is a group of Roman Catholic theologians who deeply love our family the Catholic Church. While we fully accept the authority of the Pope, we also are convinced that he and his advisors in Rome are making a serious mistake by dismissing women as priests. We feel obliged in conscience to make our carefully considered reasons known, fulfilling our duty to speak out as our present Pope has repeatedly told us to do In support of the case for women's ordination, we have carefully assembled literally thousands of documents that will help you assess both sides of the case. Our site is unique in that in addition to outlining the case for women's ordination, we also provide in full all Vatican documents that ban the ordination of women. 

Case Summary
 
Our case summary along with extensive links is here:

A.     Key Points: Introduction - http://www.womenpriests.org/story.asp

B.     Seven Reasons Why Women Can and Receive Holy Orders -http://www.womenpriests.org/preasons.asp
The conclusion is clear: there are no valid arguments against women priests, and many truly Catholic arguments in favour of women's ordination.  I invite you to explore the both sides of the case.  If you have any questions, as always, please let me know!  

with love and blessings,
 
~Sophie~
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/30 06:43:13 (permalink)

Saint Therese of Lisieux
Doctor of the Church
 
"I feel the vocation of the WARRIOR, THE PRIEST, THE APOSTLE, THE DOCTOR, THE MARTYR. ... I feel in me the vocation of the PRIEST. With what love, O Jesus, I would take You in my hands when, at my voice, You would come down from heaven. And with what love would I give You to souls!"

- St. Therese of Lisieux 


:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) knew first-hand the frustration of wanting a vocation closed to her. She made no secret of her  lifelong desire to be a priest, but she declared it from the safety of her Carmelite convent in Lisieux, Normandy, about 100 miles northwest of Paris. After her death, Catholics, especially priests, put her on a pedestal as a model of obedient Catholic womanhood. In that spirit, she was named a Doctor of the Church in 1997.



In the chilly spring of 1896, during the long, dark night uniting Holy Thursday and Good Friday, Thérèse felt “something very hot and wet” percolate into her mouth. Her handkerchief blood-soaked, she sensed a “fog” around her.

By September 1897 she was “dying of not being able to die.” Months of vomiting, laboured breathing, and fainting were taking their toll. Thérèse considered her impending death, at age 24, to be a blessing: had she been male, she would have been ordained to the priesthood later that year. She thanked God for taking her early, to spare her the disappointment of not being a priest.
 
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
 
For more about Therese's calling to priesthood, see here: Saint Therese of Lisieux: Called to Priesthood  
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/03/30 07:03:29 (permalink)
 
 
In June 2008, Women's Ordination Worldwide respectfully points out:

...In baptism, women and men share equally in the priesthood of Christ. Baptism implies a fundamental openness to all sacraments, including Holy Orders. The history of the Church documents the ordination of women.  Jennifer Stark, coordinator of WOW, commented, ‘This is a global issue. In many countries around the world, the exclusion of women from ordained ministry, and thus from the decision-making structures of a worldwide church, has profound effects for their position and well being, and that of their children. It signals that they are lesser beings in the eyes of God.’ ...
Read complete statement, click here: http://www.womenpriests.org/circles/fb.asp?m=32286
______________________________________________________________________________________________
Women’s Ordination Worldwide was established during the First European Women’s Synod in Gmunden, Austria in 1996. It is a network of national and international organisations working for the inclusion of women in all ordained ministries. WOW has hosted two international conferences (Dublin 2001 and Ottawa 2005) and plans to hold a third conference in California in 2010.
______________________________________________________________________________________________
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/04/03 01:53:18 (permalink)
Died March 30 in 1990:  Sister Thea Bowman, Fransiscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, Teacher, Consultant for Inter-Cultural Awareness


Sister Thea Bowman
 
In her role as consultant, Sr. Thea encouraged people to communicate with one another so that they could understand other cultures and races. Sr. Thea fought evil, especially prejudice, suspicion, hatred and things that drive people apart.  She fought for God and God's people until her death in 1990 of bone cancer.
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/04/03 01:54:17 (permalink)
Who Was She?

Thea, as she was called by many, was known for tirelessly spreading the gospel through song, dance, and story, and for promoting cross-cultural awareness throughout the country. She so captured the hearts and minds of the world that, since her death, talk of sainthood has surrounded her
name.
 

Born Bertha Bowman in Yazoo City, Mississippi, Thea was baptized a Catholic in 1947. She entered the Fransiscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration community in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1953. She professed vows in 1958. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree at Viterbo University. Thea taught at Blessed Sacrament in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Holy Child Jesus Catholic High School in Canton, Mississippi.

She went on to receive her master's and doctoral degrees from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. then came back to La Crosse and taught English at Viterbo from 1972 to 1978. She served as Director of the Office of Intercultural Awareness for the Diocese of Jackson the next ten years.

Thea helped found the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and became a popular international speaker. She died in 1990 after a six-year struggle with cancer but her legacy and light shine on. (Thea Fest 2000, La Crosse, Wisconsin)

Her Life from Many Perspectives
 
A timeless way to assess the impact of a person, an idea, a truth is to measure how many persons become aware of that person, that idea, that truth. The number of testaments to Sister Thea's life and work is growing exponentially.

"Bishop (Richard O.) Gerow definitely made history, when in November 1961, he accepted a black sister into his diocese. Sister Thea Bowman was the daughter of Dr. [and Mrs.] Theon Bowman in Canton, Mississippi.
 
At the instigation of Father Luke Mikschl, Gerow approved Sister Thea's returning home to work in Canton. He, however, was very cautious and often advised Father Luke and Sister Thea to act inconspicuously and keep a low profile. Little did he know that Sister Thea would become one of the most important members of the Jackson Diocese impressing everyone she met with her simplicity, devotion and love."
 
--Michael V. Namorato, The Catholic Church in Mississippi, 1911-1984: A History

 
"Sometimes a light surprises . . . It is the Lord who rises with healing on his wings. Sister Thea [invited] me to come to New Orleans for the next summer session (1986) of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University. She wanted me to team teach a course with her, The Spirituality of Black Literature. She assured me that I would find the experience grace-filled, that she was convinced that I belonged at the Institute and she told me that the new director of the Institute would contact me and make all the formal arrangements. And it came to pass just as she announced.

I arrived in New Orleans the night before classes began. That evening Thea and I sat on a bench outside the chapel and talked for just under a half-hour. The next morning I found our classroom and my life changed forever."

--Joseph A. Brown, SJ, A Retreat with Thea Bowman and Bede Abram: Leaning on the Lord

"As a young person, Bowman was shy and eager to learn. As she grew in age and grace, she more boldly shared her gifts as a singer and dancer and spoke about the undervaluing of African Americans and women in church and society. 'I like being black. I like being myself, and I thank God for making me my black self,' was her theme.

Once she 'decided to come fully functioning,' to her church and the world, she urged her black audiences to remember that they too were whole and could stop being ashamed that our history included slavery. 'We didn't enslave ourselves. Somebody else enslaved us. Let the people who created slavery answer to God for it, and let us thank God for the cultural and faith traditions that enabled us to overcome it.'

A scholar and an inspiring teacher, she moved gracefully between the academy and the streets and did more to inspirit the African-American Roman Catholic community than any other twentieth century leader."
 
--Evelyn Mattern and Helen David Brancato, Why Not Become Fire? Encounters with Women Mystics

 
"Thea's vision was to be a joyful prophet of a new multi-ethnic Church and world -- a community of people without walls. By her association with the bishops, Thea demonstrated that one can choose to work to change the structures from within.

As a creative educator, artistic dancer, powerful singer, and dynamic lecturer, Sister Thea left a tremendous legacy of gospel living that will inspire, instruct, and enlighten generations to come. In her native African dress, she made people clap their hands, dance, and sing. She promoted intercultural awareness, understanding, and pride in Black culture. Even TV correspondent Mike Wallace and the Roman Catholic bishops experienced the joy she exuded."

--Bridget Mary Meehan, Praying with Visionary Women
 

"Thea Bowman in flesh and blood and bones is gone from us, but her spiritual legacy remains. She belongs now to all of humanity, to a world desperately in need of the expansion and deepening of that legacy. Her legacy is quite clear yet mysterious, attracting and energizing others in their own ministries."
 
--Christian Koontz, RSM, Thea Bowman Handing on Her Legacy
 
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/04/03 01:55:59 (permalink)
Sister Thea Bowman (1937 - 1990)
~a tribute


Sister Thea Bowman

Sister Thea Bowman is the first African-American woman to receive a Doctorate in Theology from Boston College
.

Sr. Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A., Ph.D., was born in the small rural town of Canton in Central Mississippi. Her grandfather was a slave; her father was a physician and her mother, a teacher. In 1965, Sr. Bowman received a B.A. in English, Speech and Drama from Viterbo College in La Crosse, Wisconsin. In 1969, she received an M.A. in English and in 1972, a Ph.D. in English Language, Literature, and Linguistics; both degrees from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

She has been a teacher in Blessed Sacrament School in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Holy Child Jesus High School in Canton, Mississippi, The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Viterbo College in La Crosse, Wisconsin and the Institute of Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In her position as Consultant for Intercultural Awareness for the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, Sister Thea frequently works with children to help them grow in awareness of their gifts and of their cultural heritage. Through song, dance, poetry, drama and story, she communicates joy, freedom and pride, using traditional Black teaching techniques that are holistic, participatory and reality focused.

Sister Thea makes more than 100 public appearances each year, giving lectures, recitals, short courses, workshops, and conference presentations, spreading the message that people are gifted, that Black is beautiful, and that cross-cultural collaboration enriches both education and living.

In Nigeria, Kenya, Canada, the Virgin Islands, Hawaii, New York to Florida, Mississippi to California, Louisiana to Illinois, thousands of people have worked with Sister Thea. She makes doers of watchers, makes people more aware of their own gifts and potentials, and puts races in touch with one another. Her ministry is a ministry of joy.

Sister Thea deservingly received her Doctor of Religion from Boston College in 1989. The following is a citation of a speech conferring her distinctions at the 1989 Boston College Commencement Ceremony.

Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration; charismatic evangelist calling Black Catholics to their rightful place and to the expression of their culture within the church, advocate and consultant for intercultural awareness for the Diocese of Jackson; scholar of English Language and literature expert in the Renaissance and the works of William Faulkner; master teacher whose methodology, rich in Black Community's traditional ways of learning and doing, profoundly touches rural Mississippi school children, university students, and world-wide lecture or concert audiences alike. In the glory of your ministry we witness the Franciscan ideal of joy rendered more radiant by a woman of lively, living faith, truly Black and authentically Catholic. To your lifetime of building the Kingdom of God, preaching the Good News in the language of your people, and reclaiming the virtues and values that are your inheritance, Boston College says an approving "Amen!" and proudly declares you Doctor of Religion.
 
http://www.bc.edu/offices/ahana/about/history/bowman.html
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/04/03 01:56:47 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
Thea Bowman (December 29, 1937 - March 30, 1990) was a Roman Catholic nun, teacher, and scholar. Born Bertha Bowman she converted to the Roman Catholic faith and joined the Fransiscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was educated at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Catholic University of America, and Boston College, and was a scholar of William Faulkner. She gave inspirational talks and was on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace. A number of schools were named after Sister Thea. And Xavier University of Louisiana named their Institution for Black Catholic Studies after Sister Thea.
 
Sister Thea Bowman told Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes: 'I think the difference between me and some people is that I'm content to do my little bit. Sometimes people think they have to do big things in order to make change. But if each one would light a candle we'd have a tremendous light'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thea_Bowman
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RE: Holy Women Through the Ages: 2009 2009/04/03 01:57:40 (permalink)
Died March 30, 1990 - Thea Bowman 

Thea Bowman, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, lived life with hope, love and justice.

Born December 29, 1937, in Yazoo City, Mississippi, USA, Thea was reared as a Methodist until at age nine when she asked her parents if she could become a Catholic.

Gifted with a brilliant mind, beautiful voice and a dynamic personality, Sr. Thea shared the message of God's love through a teaching career. After 16 years of teaching, at the elementary, secondary and university level, the bishop of Jackson, Miss., invited her to become the consultant for intercultural awareness.

In her role as consultant Sr. Thea, an African-American, gave 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.

She encouraged people to communicate with one another so that they could understand other cultures and races.

In 1984, Sr. Thea was diagnosed with breast cancer. She prayed "to live until I die." Her prayer was answered, and Thea continued her gatherings seated in a wheelchair. In 1989, the U.S. bishops invited her to be a key speaker at their conference on Black Catholics. At the end of the meeting, at Thea's invitation, the bishops stood and sang "We Shall Overcome" with gusto.

Thea lived a full life. She fought evil, especially prejudice, suspicion, hatred and things that drive people apart. She fought for God and God's people until her death in 1990.

http://www.fspa.org/fspanews/thea_bowman.asp
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