Endowment and Planned Giving Program Manager, Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County
Every time I visit a parish in our diocese, I’m able to appreciate the unique culture and beauty that has been built up by many generations. The active members of each community have contributed something during their lifetime to build the kingdom of God, and some even left behind material support for the next generation to continue building.
After a recent meeting at Saint Martin of Tours Parish, the pastor asked if I had a few minutes to go see something inside the Church. “Let’s see if you notice what is new,” he challenged me. I saw it right away… how could I not notice it? In an empty and silent church, a light was shining bright on a beautifully crafted altar. It was a magnificent focal point – as it should be. Made by an Italian craftsman, the base of the table simulated the roots of a robust tree and made me think of my own Catholic roots and the tree of life.
After admiring the pieces for a few minutes, he shared with me a detail that made the whole altar look even more beautiful. This would have not been possible without the generosity of parishioners, including that of Betty Barnacle Dillane, a long-time parishioner who remembered the parish in her will with a gift of a home.
My mind immediately shifted from admiring the beauty and craftsmanship in these pieces to admiring this extraordinary act of stewardship. The table was no longer an object in my eyes, it was a symbol of the faith and hope passed on by one of our sisters in Christ.
When the Church received the keys to this home, it came with a letter from the trustee of her estate that read, “It was Betty’s wish that this house go to the Church which sustained her through the most difficult parts of her life and nurtured her faith, allowing her to go on. I hope the money it brings will help the Church to help others.” What a blessing for someone to be able to give back to a parish that had been so important to her during her life!
As I write this on a Sunday morning, I’m thinking of the many children at Saint Martin of Tours Parish who are celebrating their First Holy Communion. I picture them walking towards this beautiful table with joy and anticipation to receive the body and blood of Christ for the very first time and it warms my heart. They are not only in communion with those around them, but through their legacies, also in communion with every Catholic who was ever a part of this parish.
May we all continue to build our Church today and leave behind the tools for others to preserve and expand His kingdom.
If you would like to leave a legacy of support for a Catholic organization that is important in your life, we would be glad to assist you. Please contact us at (408) 995-5219.