Campus Minister Meyer Chambers kicked off the "Preaching from Sr. Thea's Kitchen" series.

Boston College Campus Ministry recently began a video series called “Preaching from Sr. Thea’s Kitchen,” a platform that focuses on and amplifies Black voices at Boston College, through the intersection of scripture and Ignatian spirituality with racial justice. The series is named after Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman H’89, namesake of BC’s Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, who was known for integrating Catholic tradition with Black spirituality.

The idea for the series arose from conversations among Campus Ministry staffers Carly Anderson, Meyer Chambers, Emily Egan, and Rev. James Hairston, who have been working to identify ways Campus Ministry can contribute to a community that upholds the dignity of the person and affirms that Black Lives Matter.

The videos have been shared via YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and email. View the series here.

The initiative kicked off in June with Chambers, who met Sister Thea while he was in graduate school at Xavier University. His presentation included readings of 1 Corinthians 13 and Psalm 112. He also talked about his favorite saint, Peter Claver, S.J., who ministered to and cared for countless enslaved people, and the Knights of Peter Claver, the largest lay Black Catholic organization in the United States. Chambers said, “Many people are asking, ‘What can I do?’ You can pray. You can protest. You can donate. You can be a friend. You can listen. You can empathize.”

Preaching from the Multi-Faith Chapel at BC, Rev. Hairston, an Episcopal priest and Army chaplain, read from the Book of Proverbs. He spoke honestly about the racism he has encountered at each of the communities his calls home. “Yet, I remain. Why? Because of those before me and those after me. I see the current crop of new priests and clergy coming into the Church, and I’m impressed. I see the students at Boston College protesting and demanding change, and I’m inspired. I see soldiers demanding more from the leadership…and I’m hopeful.”

Sister Thea Bowman

"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

Montserrat Program Director Yvonne McBarnett preached from a park and cited Psalms 27 and Galatians 6:9. She quoted both Sister Thea and Tamike Palmer, mother of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police officers earlier this year. McBarnett urged viewers to “be open to having conversations and hearing you’ve got it wrong” and “be willing to support your fellow brothers and sisters that don’t look like you.”

“Our hope, as the preaching series continues throughout the year, is to honor the legacy of Sister Thea by centering Black voices of faith from the BC community,” said Campus Ministry Associate Director Ryan Heffernan, who noted that videos will likely continue to be posted every other week and come from a cross section of the University community, including students, faculty, and staff.

More recent presenters include Joshua Beekman, director of football initiatives, and Claire Johnson Allen, associate director of the Women’s Center.

Beekman, who spoke from Alumni Stadium, said, “We must affirm each other. We must uplift each other.” He read passages from the Book of Genesis about Joseph, the son of Jacob, and quoted Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Jr. and his mentor and former coach, Don Horton, who died in 2016.

Allen shared her experience during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and how it turned into a pivotal time where she discovered her gifts. She challenged viewers to reflect on how they can use their gifts to address issues of racial injustice. “We all have the ability to fight for change. And we all have different ways, and different skills, and different gifts with which to be able to fight for change.”

Kathleen Sullivan | University Communications | September 2020