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.