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Inclusion and Belongingness with Thea Bowman


Theology Common Text Lecture with Mrs. Sherita Thomas 

On Nov. 3, theology students filed into McGuire Hall and anticipated the arrival of the night’s guest speaker, Mrs. Sherida Thomas, a vice president of global associate experience at T. Rowe Price and the Interim Director of the Office of Black Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The common text lecture, titled, “Cultivating the Spirit of Inclusion and Belongingness,” was hosted by Loyola’s theology department. Throughout the fall semester, theology classes had read through “In My Own Words,” a collection of reflections by Sister Thea Bowman. This book provides insight into what Sister Thea Bowman believed about justice, peace, and love in the context of faith and the Black Catholic community in America. Her commitment was to bring people together through her unapologetically Black and catholic self. 

When Thomas was in middle school, she met Thea Bowman. While at the time she was unaware of who Bowman was, Thomas recalled that she began her presentation with a song, which was authentically a “Thea Bowman thing to do.” Thomas stressed the importance of this lecture by reminding the student audience that “[they] are the future leaders.” Thomas said, 

“It is critical for me to share with you my story.” 

Thomas told of how she explained to her young daughter the tragic death of George Floyd last year. Following the explanation, her daughter asked her, “So, what are you going to do?” For Thomas, this experience teaches that “we are better together,” which is the essence of Thea Bowman’s commitment to the Church community. 

Thomas’ lecture proceeded as she shared five valuable life lessons from Sister Thea Bowman that promote justice, peace, and love for the furthering of inclusion and belongingness.

Lesson 1: Be Authentic 

Thea Bowman taught that in order to be inclusive one must be “fully functioning.” Thomas explained that individuals should be proud of their identity because “we are all made in God’s image. So whatever you are, be proud, that makes you authentic.” 

Lesson 2: Inform and Educate Yourself 

Thea Bowman understood her community well. For this, she needed to understand her point of view and the point of view of others. Her commitment was to push others forward through education, no matter the potential barriers in culture and identity that others presented. 

Lesson 3: Be Involved

Thomas expressed her amusement that Thea Bowman traveled all over the country, which is how she focused on breaking down racial and cultural barriers. Thomas elaborated that Thea Bowman “brought different cultures and people together.” The bridges that Sister Thea Bowman made between cultures should be admired and continued. 

Lesson 4: Enable and Advocate for Others 

In the realm of working to advance racial justice, Thomas said, “it’s about what you do every day. You can do that wherever you’re active.” Thea Bowman spoke for those that couldn’t speak for themselves. 

Lesson 5: Love Your Neighbor 

Thea Bowman’s life teaches a lesson about living in harmony, love, and solidarity with one another. Peacemaking was crucial for Thea Bowman’s teachings and is something that our modern society would be better off embracing more of.  

Thomas then posed the question, “What role can you play?” She made it clear that what is important is that “you are involved.”

Philanthropists approach Thomas, and according to her, “they’ll say, ‘I want to help racial justice work. I want to do more of this.’ And I’ll say, ‘Where are you already planted?’ Some will say ‘oh I work with the homeless shelter.’” 

She encouraged the future leaders, advocates, and activists sitting in McGuire Hall that:

“Wherever you are, you can take a step back and look at everything and say, what can I do in that space?” 

Featured Image courtesy of Clay Banks via Unsplash

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Inclusion and Belongingness with Thea Bowman