Why you want to know Susej KrisAnn Thompson: For the past two and a half years, she has been the pastoral music director at Our Lady of the Holy Souls in Little Rock, growing the ministry which includes a traditional choir, praise and worship team, special ensemble and a handbell choir.
But her background is rooted in youth and young adult ministry. For about 14 years, she served as a volunteer or staff member in youth ministry at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Little Rock. She served as a campus minister at the University of Arkansas Little Rock for seven years.
Thompson is also the Life in the Spirit ministry coordinator for teens and young adults through the diocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal. She writes, speaks at and facilitates retreats throughout the state for parishes and faith organizations, as well as providing music at diocesan events. Thompson has been helping train young musicians to be retreat ministers, forming a Catholic music collective. She has spent 20 years leading retreats and prayer services at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock, her alma mater. Most recently, she led the first Praise and Worship Conference at Holy Souls.
Parish: Our Lady of the Holy Souls
City: Little Rock
Family: Five children Jared, 20; Ana, 18; Stephen, 15; Titus, 14; and Jacob, 12
Education: Bachelor’s degree in sociology, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro
In her own words
What feeds you spiritually?
The Mass has become everything to me … Just to feel the power of the Mass and look out on the people and love them and pray for them during Mass as an (intercessor) for them. Just that whole process is so beautiful to me. I also believe it’s important for everyone, but for musicians especially, to pursue the Holy Spirit because people know when they’re hearing music that sounds good and when they’re hearing music that, “Oh the presence of God is in that music.”
What instruments do you play?
What I say is my main instrument is my voice. But I like to learn so I play piano, guitar, ukulele, drums, bass, little bit of mandolin. I’m teaching myself the accordion, I got a banjo recently. Lots of little hand percussion things.
Your name is Jesus spelled backwards. How’d that come about?
My joke as a kid was that my dad was a religious dyslexic. But he just said the whole church was praying I’d be a girl and I was and they decided to name me after Jesus. It totally fits my dad’s personality like perfectly. He’s a word nerd like me and just loves Jesus, so he decided to do something different there. It’s kind of grown, I went into ministry so half the time I’m the Jesus lady, my blog is jesusbackwards.wordpress.com.
Your husband died in 2013. How have you been able to cope with that loss through faith?
What I learned through the gift of suffering was that I thought I knew Jesus, but you can’t know Jesus truly, he’s near to the brokenhearted. He hears the cry of the poor and the hard times we went through were transforming us. Being resurrected from that process was beautiful and feeling the love of the body of Christ throughout those times, it’s not something you want to volunteer for but … it just changed me forever. Suffering gives you the eyes of compassion. Music was such a part of that suffering. When you sing through your pain, people hear and feel the love of God through that.
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