by Steve Johnson
Special to The Leaven
ATCHISON — “Do you want to do something beautiful for God? There is a person who needs you. This is your chance.”
That quote from Mother Teresa (now St. Teresa of Kolkata) was her simple instruction on how to make the world a better place. Do simple things on a regular basis to help others.
A few years ago, Benedictine College in Atchison established an award called Do Something Beautiful for God to honor people and organizations who go above and beyond to follow Mother Teresa’s mission. In June, Cindy Dickason, who has acted in many ways to answer that call, received this award on the college campus.
“In honoring Cindy today, we recognize the thousands of moments through which she has deeply touched the lives of the students and community of Benedictine College,” said Benedictine College president Stephen D. Minnis during the ceremony. “Through the many times she has adopted students and their families into her heart and welcomed them as one of her own. . . . Through her tireless support for Coach Lincoln Roblee and his women’s soccer team, and Coach Clare Hanson and her national champions in women’s lacrosse. Through her compassion for those in physical need and lifting up, of Dr. Jackie Harris, director of the college’s nursing program, and the future nurses of the Mother Teresa Nursing Center.”
Cindy and her husband Rich lived in Atchison for 48 years before moving to the Kansas City area to be closer to some of their 10 grandchildren, where they are members of St. Paul Parish in Olathe. In a twist, it turns out that the two were introduced in 1962 by Minnis’ father Doug, who coached baseball at Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas, at the time. The couple are celebrating 54 years of marriage this August.
Through various family connections, Cindy became acquainted with several female soccer players at the high school level, including Natalie Duque and Rosie McShane. As those players made their way to Benedictine, Cindy cheered for them, invited their families to stay in her home when they visited, and always made them feel welcome and supported.
“Cindy has been super-supportive of women’s soccer by showing care for the players,” said women’s soccer head coach Roblee. “She gives support by cheering on the team at games. She always gives words of encouragement and recognizes reasons to celebrate an individual or team moment.”
“She has hosted a number of players for meals and is always energetic to help benefit someone else,” she continued. “I am very thankful for everything Cindy Dickason does for Benedictine College and the women’s soccer team. Our team is strong, and she makes us stronger.”
Cindy also made herself available to students and parents on freshman “Move-In Day” at the college and made additional connections there. One was Gabrielle (Ella) Sipe, who would enter the Benedictine College Nursing Program and is now a nurse.
“During her four years at Benedictine College, Ella’s family stayed at our home in Atchison when they visited,” Cindy said. “I am still very close to her, and it is a friendship that I still treasure today. Ella now lives in Denver and is a caring and dedicated nurse.”
Cindy also had family ties to the nursing program and was a close friend of Jackie Harris, the director of the program.
“Jackie’s niece received one of our scholarships that we give each year at Maur Hill-Mount Academy (in Atchison) in memory of our oldest son, Richard R. Dickason Junior, M.D., Ph.D.,” Cindy said. “His untimely death at 31 is one reason my husband and I donated the statue of the Sacred Heart on the Benedictine Campus. I have met so many students because of their devotion to the statue.”
The Sacred Heart of Jesus statue stands in the center of Raven Memorial Park and is a focal point on campus. It was erected, and the Sacred Heart enthroned on campus, in 2018.
The presentation ceremony for the Do Something Beautiful for God Award took place in front of the statue on the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 24 this year.
In addition to her relationship with the women’s soccer team, the Benedictine nurses and the Sacred Heart statue, Cindy has also supported the women’s lacrosse team. She nurtured a relationship with lacrosse through a friendship with Clare Hanson, one of the players. Hanson is now the team’s head coach and recently won the NAIA National Women’s Lacrosse Championship.
“Cindy is one of the most affirming and joyful people I have ever been around. I first met her as a student through my roommates — Rosie McShane and Katie (Miskin) McDaniel — who were on the women’s soccer team,” Hanson said. “She cares about all the right things.
“She was excited that we won the national championship, but she was more excited to hear how faith-filled and prayerful our team is. I know she prayed endlessly for us. Cindy is a giver in every sense of the word. We are thankful to know her!”
Cindy has also been supportive of the men of St. Michael Hall, a residence facility on Benedictine’s campus. The Dickasons funded the chapel in St. Michael Hall, which they embraced since their youngest son carried the name Michael as his middle name, after the archangel.
“The land that St. Michael is built on was once the Atchison Hospital, where our youngest son was born in 1979,” Cindy said. “We wanted the name ‘Michael’ to be a part of the new residence hall.”
All her giving has not gone unrewarded. In addition to the official recognition with the Do Something Beautiful for God Award, her relationship with Benedictine students has brought her peace and happiness.
“When our son Rich Junior, passed away unexpectedly in 2001, I was deeply depressed and sad. As a mother, I never got to say my last goodbye,” said Cindy. “Becoming so close to these students at Benedictine College helps lift my heart because of their sincere love and understanding. Being involved with them just brightens my days. They give me life and love.” “Like my mother taught me, ‘You get back what you give in life.’ These Benedictine students have given me strength inwardly to accept each day as it comes,” she continued. “Giving and sharing love and appreciation gives me a reason to make the most of each day, so Benedictine College is an important part of my life.”