A Saint, a Statue and the Spirit of Family
"Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices."
This prayer written by St. Teresa of Avila in the 1500s helped my family through some hard times over the years. As an ambitious nun focused on reform, St. Teresa believed the most powerful prayer was not one that simply made you feel good but one that inspired you to act.
My mom, Jeanne Collins Thompson, was a very kind and generous woman, and as a student at The College of Saint Teresa (now known as Avila University), she was inspired by the school’s patron saint and passed along many of those values to her children. Like St. Teresa, my mom was also inspired to act, and was even the first recipient of the Ariston Award, given annually to a top senior undergraduate for work in and out of the classroom. Mom was a very humble woman, and I don't think she ever felt like she deserved the awards she received, but we all know she was indeed worthy and loved by many.
Over the years, our family has stayed involved with Avila University, and we were proud to support a new dormitory in recent years that's named in our mom's honor. As the new campus was built in its current location in south Kansas City, we were also excited to watch as the school expanded and improved. But it was missing one important item: a proper statue of St. Teresa. So when Ron Slepitza, PhD, president of Avila, approached our family about supporting a statue that could serve as an inspiration to current and future students, we were more than happy to help.
The school began working with Charles Goslin, a local artist who formerly worked at Hallmark and graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute. After Charles sculpted the iconic saint in clay, the finished statue was forged. It now stands between Blasco Hall and Goppert Theatre, where it welcomes students and visitors to campus.
The statue is dedicated to the memory of my mom, Jeanne, and my late father, Byron Thompson, Sr., and a special unveiling and dedication ceremony was held on Oct. 26 (which coincidentally was also my grandmother’s birthday, and was near mom's birthday and St. Teresa's Feast Day). I was happy so many of our family members and bank associates could be there with us, along with Charles, Ron and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.
Continuing to Serve
I’m so proud of Country Club Bank’s support of Avila. I’m also pleased to continue to serve on the university board. It's especially gratifying to see the St. Teresa statue in its rightful place on campus—to encourage people to stay close to God, to serve as an inspiration for young people, and to help students understand who St. Teresa was, including her leadership as a young woman at the time.
My mother had another prayer of St. Teresa that she loved, one she used to recite a lot as we were growing up:
“In this house, all must be friends, all must be loved, all must be held dear, all must be helped."
My wife and I remember this prayer in our own family, and I only hope I can always use those words to guide my life. And as vice chairman of Country Club Bank and chairman of Country Club Trust Company, I will always strive to use St. Teresa’s example to serve our clients with the same passion and sincerity.
Who inspired you as you grew up? Who continues to inspire you? Share your thoughts on Twitter @CountryClubBank or Facebook!