LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Viterbo University's Campus Ministry Center is now known as the Sister Thea Bowman Center after an icon of the school who is currently a candidate for sainthood.
Sister Thea Bowman was born in Mississippi in 1937, but eventually found herself as a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and a major figure in Viterbo's history, according to President Rick Trietley.
“She’s a graduate of Viterbo University," Trietley said. "Some would argue our most famous graduate. She was also a professor at Viterbo University. Then she advocated for social justice. For racial justice. For diversity, equity and inclusion in the local communities here with Viterbo students and Viterbo employees.”
Bowman's work was felt all over the world and the current president of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Sister Eileen McKenzie, feels her voice served many purposes.
“She was a singer," McKenzie said. "She was a preacher. She made quite a bit of influence and impact on intercultural exchanges, on diversity. On really speaking for the Black Catholic Church at a time when there weren’t many voices who were proclaiming the gospel the way she did.”
The process to becoming a saint is likely to take several years, but Trietly tells News 19 they hope she is recognized while Pope Francis is still leading the Catholic church.
The dedication of the Ministry Center is part of a slate of events continuing into next week. Click here to see a schedule of what events remain.