In the late 1980’s, I was the Associate Director of the Institute for Pastoral Life (IPL) in Kansas City, an organization founded to serve the Home Mission Dioceses in the U.S. Our mission was to train liaisons (men and women: religious, lay, and ordained) from these dioceses in groups of ten to develop Adult Ministry programs in their dioceses. They came to Kansas City for week-long training five times a year, for three years.

Thea, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, came to Kansas City as an IPL instructor in what would have been one of the last years of her life (she died of cancer at age 52). I can’t remember the title of her course, but it would have been on Black Spirituality. She was one dynamic, passionate woman, who didn’t mind challenging people by her appearance or her demeanor, or her words.

I can’t remember what she said in that course…. But I remember her taking us into a very small space (I recall it as a closet)—where we sat in a circle, with our knees touching. That image has stayed with me all these years. I don’t know how it impacted the others in that little room. But I’d give anything to be back in that space again.