Sister Thea Bowman of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration captured the imagination and hearts of many in her short life (1937-1990). A convert to Roman Catholicism at a young age she sparked an appreciation for the place of the Holy Spirit in our prayer, our worship, and our daily living. Blessed with a beautiful singing voice, strong intellect, and dynamic oratorical skills, she sang with gusto:

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

Her spirit-filled faith attracted even the thick-skinned, hard-nosed 60 Minutes reporter, the late-Mike Wallace, who did a story about her in the 1980s in which she told him:

“I think the difference between me and some people is that I’m content to do my little bit. Sometimes people think they have to do big things in order to make change.

But if each one would light a candle we’d have a tremendous light”.

Sister Thea Bowman strived to live her life in imitation of Christ; not to judge others who mistreated her as a black woman in the segregated South and prejudiced North, but to be an instrument in God’s hands to save and redeem people’s goodness. Pray that I may fulfill my goal each day to do as Christ did; to show love, to enable healing, to forgive others, and to let His light shine through little old me.

Let your light shine: Smile.

Fr. Chris Manahan, S.J. is Associate Novice Director at the Jesuit Novitiate of St. Alberto Hurtado, St. Paul, MN. For more information on Jesuit vocations, click here.