Pope Francis, Sister Thea Bowman and Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns

Pope Francis and Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns chat about her Sister Thea Bowman lapel pin.

I continue to be humbled by and grateful for Pope Francis’ appointment to participate in the Synod on Synodality in October 2023 and 2024. I expected an incredible, life changing experience and that is the gift I received.

I spent September 28th thru October 30th in Rome as one of fifty-four women delegates, who for the first time in church history, have the right to vote alongside deacons, priests, bishops, cardinals, and Pope Francis.

To do this sacred work, I grounded myself in spiritual/contemplative practices so I could be present to the Holy Spirit. I created a Synod spiritual treasure box filled with images, songs, quotes, prayers, words of encouragement, and my Bible. And I leaned into Sister Thea Bowman’s strength, love, patience, wisdom, and commitment to justice for ALL.

Sister Thea Bowman, the granddaughter of enslaved persons, converted to Catholicism at age nine and later joined the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration pre-Vatican II. She died of cancer in 1990. The edict opening the formal investigation into her cause for canonization occurred in 2018. Even in death, her spiritual authority as a witness for God continues to challenge us to participate in the healing of the world. During my time at the Synod, she was my constant spiritual companion, and I wore my Sister Thea lapel pin every day we were in session. I am grateful I had the opportunity to gift a Sister Thea lapel pin to Pope Francis. 

The Church continues to be reformed. May we all continue to listen deeply to the Holy Spirit and one another as we embody Jesus’ love. 

Picture of -Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns

-Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns

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“This was such a great learning experience for all of us, and even more so, a chance to build momentum and connection.”
St. Basil's Catholic Parish
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
“We are proud to stand on the shoulders of the many women who have ministered to the people of God throughout time!”
Holy Name of Jesus Parish
New Orleans, LA
“Learning about the history of women in the diaconate gave context to efforts to enable women’s participation in the diaconate today, and it was powerful to celebrate St. Phoebe and uplift the ministry of women in our own community.”
St. John Fisher Parish
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

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