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Founding Sisters recognized and celebrated for their support

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet join select group as the first inductees to the Father Jean Pierre Medaille Society

October 22, 2012

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NEWS RELEASE

Kansas City, MO –The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who founded the College of St. Teresa in 1916, which later became Avila University, were among a select group recognized for their support of the University during a President’s Circle reception Sept. 27 on the Jeanne Hamilton Olofson Plaza.

sister helenThe Sisters were recognized and honored as inaugural inductees into the Father Jean Pierre Medaille Society for having contributed more than $1 million to the University. Fr. Medaille was the Jesuit priest who founded the Sisters of St. Joseph in the 17th century. Two centuries later, six of the Sisters traveled from France and settled in Carondelet, Mo., just outside St. Louis. They traveled across the state in 1916 and established St. Teresa’s Academy prep school and the College of St. Teresa, which became Avila College in 1963 when it moved to south Kansas City. Avila College became Avila University in 2002.

The Sisters’ values of service to the dear neighbor and developing the whole person have guided Avila throughout its history and to this day. These women are pioneers in our community, and their charism remains the backbone of Avila University. They provide not just financial support, but also time, knowledge and wisdom. The projects they’ve supported include scholarships, the School of Nursing and renovations and upgrades to Blasco Hall, the University’s administrative building.

“Through nearly a century, the guidance and support of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet has strengthened the core of Avila’s mission and left an indelible mark on generations, past, present and future,” said President Ron Slepitza, Ph.D., CSJA. “Their support inspires excellence – in students, faculty and staff, seen throughout our campus, in our classrooms and woven into our plans for the future. Our students also reflect the excellence of the Sisters, as last year they donated more than 206,000 hours of volunteer and service learning hours – a value of $4 million to the Kansas City community. The Sisters are the force that helps us continue to propel forward, onward, upward.”

“We are so very honored and humbled to be part of this celebration and to be included among such an esteemed group of philanthropists,” said Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Province Leader S. Helen Flemington, CSJ. The Sisters were inducted with a group that included Bob Hartsook and Hartsook Companies, Inc., Vita Goppert ’72, 09 and the Goppert Foundation and Tom and Jeanne Olofson ’92, ’94, ’11. “The relationship we’ve enjoyed with Avila all these years has yielded great dividends to students and our community, and we’re very excited about the potential in the future, both for the University and its students.”

S. Flemington was presented with a Medal of Honor by President Slepitza and given an engraved purple crystal vase filled with lilies, symbolic of St. Joseph.


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Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.