Generous planned gifts help Sterling parish weather COVID-19 crisis

Denver Catholic Staff

In these remarkable times, we turn to God in prayer for comfort and encouragement. This “pause” we’ve been given has provided us time to reflect on our blessings and the crosses we are asked to carry. Everyday people are making an extraordinary difference; this much is obvious when visiting with Father Michael Bodzioch, pastor of St. Anthony’s Parish in Sterling and Jean Finegan, Gift Planning Officer for The Catholic Foundation.

“St. Anthony’s in Sterling has a rich history, dating back more than 100 years,” Father Bodzioch said. “The priests do play a role in this history, but so do the parishioners of course. We are thankful for the generosity of our parishioners, past and present. We are also grateful for the aid of organizations such as The Catholic Foundation in managing these gifts and doing so in a morally responsible way.

In 2008, Father Robert Wedow, then pastor of St. Anthony’s and Bud Laber, former president of The Catholic Foundation, collaborated with leaders in the community to create a “parish fund” to be held at The Catholic Foundation. This gave parishioners peace of mind that the donor intent of the gifts would be honored and a “checks and balances” system with the Foundation would be put in place to ensure funds for the Church were spent prudently.

Over the years, contributions have been made in the form of cash, gifts of stock, IRA charitable required minimum distribution gifts, real estate transactions and gifts beyond one’s lifetime. Because of the love for their faith and the foresight of their community, St. Anthony’s continues to successfully weather the COVID-19 crisis thanks to the generosity of the parish community throughout the years.

“We enjoy the beauty of our parish and the community of our faith family thanks to those who came before us,” Father Bodzioch said.

In 2011, parishioners Don and Marlene Masin were interested in gifting their rental property to the Church. It was a smart tax decision for them, allowing them to avoid capital gains on the sale of a property they owned for a long time. The gift of real estate gave them an opportunity to give back to their parish and experience the true joy of giving.

The motivation for them to give such an incredible gift was simple: A love for the parish. “This is a true community in Christ; the people, the staff, the fellowship we share with one another,” Marlene said.

The Catholic Foundation accepted the gift of real estate on behalf of the parish before the year’s end, providing the couple with a timely tax deduction and an abundance of joy in the giving season.

The Foundation was preparing the property for sale when the pastor called to inquire if his then-sacristan could rent the house until her newly constructed home was completed in June of that year. The Foundation created a lease agreement and the rent payments were deposited into their parish fund held at the Foundation each month.

When the Foundation went to list the property in July, a long-time member of the parish, Don Wolfe, stepped forward. Upon further conversation, Don asked if there might be a solution for his wish to live in the home and leave the property to the Foundation without complications. Through the combination of a sale and donation to the fund held at the Foundation, a Retained Life Estate was created for him and remains in place today. When the home is no longer needed, the real estate will again be listed for sale and the proceeds will benefit St. Anthony’s parish fund.

Father Bodzioch pointed out that this was a gift that the parish staff could not create on their own. Wolfe’s love for Christ and his neighbor inspired him to make this legacy gift in support of his parish fund. These are everyday people making an extraordinary difference not only today, but for generations to come. Their combined gifts significantly impact the future of this eastern plains community.

Several parishioners at St. Anthony of Sterling make their IRA Charitable Contribution to the Catholic Foundation in support of their parish fund held at the Foundation. It is a smart way to give to charity. They have also committed to leaving a portion or in some cases all of their remaining balance upon their passing, recognizing that a gift to charity through their IRA ensures 100 percent of the gift is directed to the good of their Catholic parish.

In addition to the parish fund, the Catholic Foundation also assisted in facilitating a significant planned gift received for the benefit of St. Anthony’s. Jake Mari, a lifetime member of St. Anthony’s, passed away at the age of 95 in July of 2019. When the parish fund was created 12 years ago, he was one of the first to create a plan to give both currently and through his estate plan in support of the long-term vision for St. Anthony’s. The Foundation worked with him throughout the years to create a practical plan that would ensure his Catholic values, ideals and legacy would last forever.

Jake was a humble man and could always be found at St. Anthony’s parish volunteering each day in some way. “You can imagine that we miss him,” Father Bodzioch said.

Jean Finegan, Gift Planning Officer for the Foundation, shared the news of the gift with Father Bodzioch. When she provided the approximate value of the estate gift, he was speechless, overcome with tears of joy and gratitude knowing the love Jake had for his Catholic faith and the impact this gift would have on the parish for generations to come. St. Anthony’s has created the “Jake Mari Memorial Fund” to honor this gift of a lifetime.

“Jake had arranged that this gift be handled through The Catholic Foundation,” Father Bodzioch said. “Working with the Foundation these last few months, I am grateful that he did choose to work through them. With the approval of our parish finance council, the Foundation placed Jake’s gift in an endowment. The Foundation manages the fund for us, and we have access to a portion of the funds each year.”

The Catholic Foundation is honored to be part of the St. Anthony’s community. “When you consider what the Church has done for us and what God has done for us, it is so easy to include the endowment fund held at the Foundation in our final plans,” said one parishioner who chose to remain anonymous.

BOX: If you would like to learn how you can impact the future of our faith for your parish, please call The Catholic Foundation at 303-468-9885.

COMING UP: Blessings abound in Catholic Foundation’s 20 years

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Blessings abound in Catholic Foundation’s 20 years

Donors find peace and joy, while Church ministries get vital support to carry on

Roxanne King

“It is more blessed to give than to receive,” Jesus Christ said. Donors to The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado say his words (Acts 20:35) are true.

Freedom, joy and peace of mind from paying good forward, those are some of the blessings donors said they received from giving. That’s part of the legacy of The Catholic Foundation, which is marking its 20th anniversary this year.

And what about The Catholic Foundation’s material blessings? Since its inception, it has distributed more than $100 million in grants to Catholic schools, parishes and ministries. And its legacy continues to grow.

“The last few years we’ve granted back to the community about $10 million per year in the Archdiocese of Denver,” said Jean Finegan, director of planned giving and development.

The Catholic Foundation was established in 1998 by Archbishop Charles Chaput to professionally manage and safeguard donations of money, stocks and other property for the establishment of endowments, donor-advised and general funds to benefit Catholic organizations.

“We’re legally distinct from the Archdiocese of Denver but we’re of like mind and spirit to advance the mission of the Church,” Finegan said. “We provide primarily for the long-term financial support of ministries and parishes in the archdiocese.”

The Catholic Foundation is a tax-exempt entity governed by a board of trustees comprised of laity but which also includes Archbishop Samuel Aquila, auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez, and Vicar General Father Randy Dollins as ex-officio members.

Current board chair is Norma Frank, founder and CEO of Colorado Lighting Inc. and a parishioner of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Welby. Frank is a keen supporter of the foundation.

“Nothing is more freeing than living for others. You get a great feeling when you give back,” she asserted. “It’s been a way of life for generations of my family, who first put down roots in Welby more than 110 years ago.”

Frank’s grandfather helped build Assumption and her family continues to be active parishioners.

“A strong faith gives me hope and gives me the strength that I’ve needed to succeed,” she said. “God has been very good to me. He’s given me the opportunity to focus on service to others. It’s provided so much joy in my life, and I’d like to share that.”

Frank sees The Catholic Foundation as sharing the Gospel by showing how giving is part of the good news.

“It really is promoting that aspect of what you can provide for others and the joy that you will receive back from it,” she said.

Catholic Foundation donors Dr. Nate Scherer and his wife Kristin, a homemaker, are the parents of four young children and parishioners at St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Littleton.

They borrowed their motto for giving—“Just do it!”—from Nike.

“We don’t leave this world with any of the financial gifts we have been given,” Kristin Scherer explained. “Therefore, it is our responsibility to make sure that they can continue to be helpful to others after we are gone.”

Giving through The Catholic Foundation gives the Scherers peace of mind.

“We think the biggest benefit of giving through the foundation is that we can be sure that our gifts will be used responsibly by the foundation and directed where we desire,” Kristin Scherer said. “It is our hope that these gifts will also inspire our own children to carry on this legacy as well.”

The Catholic Foundation is “one-stop shopping” for Catholic giving, Finegan said.

“We have over 300 Catholic funds in support of our archdiocese,” she said, noting that the archdiocesan seminaries, Catholic Charities and the Fellowship of Catholic University Students are among the schools, parishes and ministries donors may choose to give to.

“We grow the dollars under the direction of our investment committee and investment company using a morally responsible investment policy in line with the teachings of the Church,” she emphasized. “It’s an honor and a privilege to serve our fellow Catholics in stewarding the treasures of the Church to provide for the needs of our future generations.”

In August, The Catholic Foundation’s annual appreciation night for donors, which includes a Mass celebrated by the archbishop and a reception, will honor the organization’s two decades of service, Finegan said. The warm fellowship and joy of the evening is always palpable, she said.

“It’s neat to see the synergy,” Finegan said describing how Catholics across the archdiocese connect at the event.

“Planning is a gift we give to our family and our Church that reveals our heart one more time about what matters most to us,” she continued. “The foundation provides a means to bless those who come after us. If we the faithful don’t leave a legacy gift for our parishes, schools and ministries, who will?”

Deacon Steve Stemper, president and CEO of the foundation, concurred.

“The Catholic Foundation is grateful for all the support we’ve been given these past 20 years as people have answered St. Paul’s call in Galatians 6:10 to ‘do good to all but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.’

“We look forward to partnering with many more in the coming years in their giving for the kingdom of God, not only for themselves and their future destiny, but for all those we serve.”

FIND OUT MORE
Online: TheCatholicFoundation.com
Phone: 303-468-9885
Address: 3801 E. Florida Ave., Suite 909, Denver, CO 80210