Each year, the Diocese of Norwich proclaims June as “Leave a Legacy” month. Through this initiative parishioners are reminded of the importance and benefits of giving through estate planning and planned gifts. During this past year, so many of us have been concerned with helping our friends and neighbors with their current needs. By donating to the Annual Catholic Appeal, parishioners have supported our St. Vincent de Paul Place, Norwich, and St. Vincent de Paul, Middletown, as well as our many other diocesan ministries that provide immediate physical, spiritual and educational support to those in need. Legacy giving takes a longer-term perspective and includes gifts that you may set up today to take effect many years in the future.
Taking steps now, can have profound impact on your future giving. There are so many ways that you can act today to ensure that at a later date, your chosen Diocesan entity will receive some of the benefit of your years of hard work. It can be as simple as changing a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or retirement account, or adding your church, the Annual Catholic Appeal, or your school to your Will. If you have already written your Will, adding a simple codicil amending your Will is another easy option.
While there are many examples of planned gifts being made throughout our diocese, I will share a few recent ones that come to mind. Barbara Ann Hvizdo, a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes, Gales Ferry, spent her life caring for others as a nurse in the Navy Nurse Corps. Growing up, her family motto was “God, Family, Country”. In thinking about her desire to help her church, Barbara remarked she felt that “creating a permanent endowment within the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Norwich, would be the best way for me to sustain my church, Our Lady of Lourdes into the future.” In fact, Barbara established two endowments within the Catholic Foundation, both supporting her church. The first one bears her name and the second one is named after her parents, titled the Joseph J. and Frances A. Hvizdo Endowment. Barbara’s fondest memories are of her childhood in Bridgeport and spending time with her mother at the kitchen table working on her homework and catechism with her mom’s oversight and encouragement.
A second legacy gift recently came to the Catholic Foundation by way of the Will of Sheila Moran, a lifelong parishioner of The Cathedral of St. Patrick. Through her Will, Sheila established the Edward G. Moran Family Fund Endowment with a bequest that amounted to nearly $133,000 to be used to benefit both the Cathedral as well as St. Patrick School. Upon learning of Sheila’s bequest, Monsignor Anthony Rosaforte, Rector of The Cathedral of St. Patrick, commented that “Sheila was the kindest lady you could ever meet, whatever the church needed, she would be happy to provide. She was extremely generous and loved the Cathedral as well as St. Pat’s School very much.” It is not surprising then that Sheila’s love of her church and school carried through in her Will with the creation of an endowment in her family name. She cared about continuing to support the Cathedral and St. Patrick School forever.
A final, very touching example of legacy giving was a gift of over $107,000 to honor the memory of Audrey Dougherty Planeta, through a charitable gift annuity created by her husband, Edward Planeta, Sr. After the deaths of both their spouses, Audrey and Edward met, married, and spent 35 wonderful years together with their blended family of 12 children. Since Audrey and her family had been longtime members of Sacred Heart Church and had a strong love for education, the family felt that the Sacred Heart Church Education Endowment within the Catholic Foundation would be the perfect recipient of this gift. Michael Planeta, speaking on behalf of his dad and siblings shared, “My father and Audrey were married at Sacred Heart Church. Education and the Catholic faith have always been important to our blended families. Our families have been blessed with the opportunities that a quality education provides. It was only fitting therefore to honor Audrey with a donation in her memory to the Sacred Heart endowment to support the school.”
While not all of us are in a position to make such large gifts now or in the future, we all have the ability to make planned gifts and perhaps adjust our Wills or beneficiary designations accordingly. If you would like more information on helping to support your favorite diocesan organization well into the future, please contact Mary Ellen Mahoney at the Office of Development at 860-886-1928 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, it is best to fully discuss your wishes with your family and financial/tax advisor before making any decisions. Thank you so much and God Bless!
By Mary Ellen Mahoney