The Academy has as its guiding light, Sister Thea Bowman, an African American nun who was born on December 29, 1937, in Yazoo City, Miss. She was raised as a Methodist until at age nine when she asked her parents if she could become a Catholic. Gifted with a brilliant mind, beautiful voice and dynamic personality, Sr. Thea shared the message of God's love through a 16 year teaching career. Born as Bertha Bowman she joined the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration at La Crosse, Wisconsin, where she attended Viterbo University. In 1989, the U.S. bishops invited her to be a key speaker at their conference on Black Catholics. At the end of the meeting, at Sr. Thea's invitation, the bishops stood and sang "We Shall Overcome" with gusto. Sr. Thea lived a full life. She fought evil, especially prejudice, suspicion, hatred and things that drive people apart. She fought for God and God's people until her death in 1990.
The AACCFE outreach program for African American youth is designed to provide an opportunity for members to participate in a structured music choral and liturgical dance program. The program is named in honor of Sister Thea Bowman and will be known as the "Sister Thea Bowman Youth Music Academy at St. Bernadette School." This program is made possible by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles through a three year grant from the Dorothy F. Coleman Trust
.As music played a major role in Sr. Thea’s life and ministry, the Academy seeks to utilize music as a tool to teach through discipline practices and prayerful performances an appreciation for Christian values and Catholic Social Ministries so as to assist its members in making better life choices. The primary goal of the Academy is to help the members to become who God intended them to be.
The Academy is under the leadership of the director of the AACCFE and has two core components, a youth choir and a youth liturgical dance group. The program coordinator is responsible for coordinating overall activities of both groups for practices and performances. Both groups practice at St. Bernadette School on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month from 9 am to noon and prepares for a special program for both Easter and Christmas.
All members of the Academy are to follow the policies and procedures of the Sr. Thea Bowman Academy