Sr. Elizabeth Thoman altered the course of my life
Sr. Elizabeth Thoman, a member of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary and a woman religious who changed my life, died December 22 at Bishop Drumm Retirement Center in Johnston, Iowa. She was 73.
I first met Liz in 1990 in Portland, Oregon, at a meeting of Unda-USA (now SIGNIS), the Catholic association for radio and television. Liz gave a presentation on the magazine she had founded and published, Media & Values, and she spoke about media literacy: the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms.
I had never heard of media literacy before. As a Daughter of St. Paul, I was intrigued, since part of our mission of evangelization is to practice and teach critical thinking about media. The challenge was that no one in the congregation had yet figured out how to do that in an organized, systematic way.
After the workshop, I spoke with Liz and arranged to have Media & Values placed in some of our Pauline book and media stores.
In 1991, the Unda-USA meeting was in St. Louis, and once again, Liz was there. She co-presented on media literacy and faith formation with Oblate Fr. Pierre Babin (1925-2012).
I spoke with Liz after and asked, "Where can I go to obtain a master's in media literacy education?"
Liz was so focused on her work that she could sometimes sound brusque, so she responded very directly, "Well, you can't do it here. No one in North America gives such a degree. You have to go to Australia or the U.K. Here, contact Jesuit Fr. John Pungente in Toronto. He has a list of schools."
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