The Home of Sister Thea

I’m going to double back a few weeks now, to my final visit in my recent southern swing, a trip that reminded me that it isn’t just COVID that can derail one’s best laid plans.

It was a Friday afternoon and I was buzzing into Baton Rouge, La., for a full weekend of activities in one of the most Catholic areas of the country. I had a concert, an art show, a Magnificat breakfast all on tap before hitting the French Quarter for Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe, International Shrine of St. Jude. Just then, I got a phone call from Father Tony, who informed me it wasn’t likely the church would be conducting Mass on Sunday due to the hurricane bearing down on New Orleans, a storm I knew nothing about.

Being a Northerner unfamiliar with these tropical storms, I hightailed it out of the Bayou for higher and drier ground. Not wanting to waste a perfectly good weekend in the south, I headed north to Mississippi, intent on pushing ahead my visit to Holy Child of Jesus in Canton and its sister parish, Sacred Heart in Camden. Holy Child is the home church of the late Sister Thea Bowman, for whom a canonization effort has already begun.

Despite my unannounced visit to the Parishes of Madison County, it was a wonderful weekend, kicked off by an afternoon with Sister Dorothy Kundlinger, who traveled with and cared for Sister Thea in the last years of the Sister Thea’s life, and was greeted warmly by the small but lively parishes of Sacred Heart and Holy Child, where the inspiring nun is still very present.

I have included a few photos from both parishes. As a bonus below you can find a link to part of Sister Thea’s remarks to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1989, when she spurred those older gentleman to stand up, hold hands and sing We Shall Overcome, a testament to her courage and commitment in her pursuit of the faith.

The DIY cross outside Sacred Heart
The colorful altar acknowledging the parish’s African roots.

The parishioners of Holy Child of Jesus.

Father Guy Wilson delivers his homily behind a painting of Sister Thea Bowman.

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