February 7, 2000
THEA FEST 2000 CELEBRATES THE LIFE OF SR. THEA BOWMAN
LA CROSSE, Wis.—Good food, gospel music, memories, and a personal presentation of a limited edition print by national artist David Lee Csiscko all mark Thea Fest 2000, a celebration of the life and legacy of the late Sister Thea Bowman, Sunday, March 26 at Viterbo College.
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 10 years ago, talk of sainthood has surrounded her name.
The Thea Fest 2000 celebration is open to the public. The events, which are free except for the brunch, include:
- 10 a.m. Mass with Gospel music at Mary of the Angels Chapel, St. Rose Convent.
- 11:30 a.m. Buffet brunch featuring a variety of soul food, Marian Hall Dining Room. Lunch is $8 per person and a ticket is needed. An RSVP is required by March 20.
- 2 p.m. Thea Fest Celebration Concert, Fine Arts Center Main Theatre, includes music from the Thea Bowman Memorial Choir from the Holy Child Jesus School in Canton, Miss.; the Viterbo Concert Choir; the reunion of Thea’s own Hallelujah Singers from Viterbo College; and the presentation by Csicsko of his print, "Sister Thea."
"Thea Fest celebrates Sr. Thea Bowman’s life and honors her on the 10th anniversary of her death. One of Thea’s greatest wishes was that we share our gifts with one another. This event allows us to do that. We hope it will also help keep Thea’s spirit alive for those who knew her and, at the same time, share the spirituality, diversity, and richness that Thea brought to life with those who didn’t know her," said Daniel Johnson-Wilmot, Viterbo music department chair, who helped organize the event.
Chicago artist Csicsko is living proof that, even after her death, Thea continues to touch people’s lives. He learned of Thea from his friends, Viterbo alumni Gary Henderson, a Chicago photographer, and his wife, Jennifer Taylor Henderson, an actress. Through stories shared by the two, Csicsko was inspired to capture her spirit in art. At the Celebration Concert, Csicsko will personally present the print "Sister Thea," to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and Viterbo.
Born Bertha Bowman in Yazoo City, Miss., Thea was baptized a Catholic in 1947. She entered the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration community in 1953 in La Crosse, Wis. and professed her vows in 1958. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree at Viterbo College, Thea later taught at Blessed Sacrament in La Crosse and Holy Child Jesus Catholic High School in Canton, Miss. She went on to receive her master’s and doctoral degrees from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She then came back to La Crosse and taught English at Viterbo from 1972-78. Thea helped found the Institute of Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans, La. and became a popular speaker. She died in 1990 after a six-year struggle with cancer.
David Lee Csicsko has created a wide array of illustrations for the city of Chicago and area museums, musical groups, and businesses as well as for a variety of national publications. He also illustrated the White House Christmas booklet in 1993 and is one of the artists whose work was on display in the city of Chicago’s recent "Cows on Parade" exhibit.