Sr. Thea Bowman Center
Sr. Thea Bowman quote

Original image by Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS

A Legacy of Living in Love

Thea Bowman young

In 2022, Viterbo University established the Sr. Thea Bowman Center to celebrate the life and legacy of Sr. Thea, the first Black member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and a 1965 Viterbo graduate who then taught at Viterbo.

After her time at Viterbo, she went on to national prominence as an educator, speaker, evangelist, and advocate for social justice.

Her influence and example were so compelling and enduring that Sr. Thea was designated a Servant of God by the Catholic Church in 2018, the first step toward canonization.

The Sr. Thea Bowman Center aims to continue her mission of “living in love” by providing resources for education and understanding of human dignity and social justice. Every year, Viterbo University will mark the anniversary of her death at age 52 (March 30, 1990) with a week of activities centered around Sr. Thea’s passions, including education, spirituality, human rights, music, literature, and art.

Also in 2022, the building that houses Viterbo’s campus ministry department was named the Sr. Thea Bowman Center to honor her legacy and remind Viterbo community members and visitors to campus of the impact one person can make by “living in love.”


Vision Statement

To foster inclusivity and raise awareness of social inequalities in our communities and day-to-day lives, as espoused in the Gospels and lived by Sr. Thea Bowman.  

Mission Statement

To celebrate the life of Sr. Thea Bowman and to advance her legacy of “living in love” by providing resources for education and understanding of human dignity and social justice.


  • Dignity, respecting all individuals
  • Equity, working toward freedom from discrimination, bias, or favoritism
  • Inclusivity, welcoming all people and ensuring their voice is part of the conversation
  • Persistence, continuing to advocate, despite opposition

Learn more about Sr. Thea

Sr. Thea Bowman
A print of this photograph taken by Gerard Pottebaum hangs in the building that houses Viterbo University's campus ministry department. The building was renamed the Sr. Thea Bowman Center in 2022.