An Opportunity to Enhance a Personal Legacy
Recently constituted, the Catholic Foundation of West Central Wisconsin (CFWCW) provides an opportunity for all Catholics living in the 19 counties that form the Diocese of La Crosse to care for the long-term financial needs of the diocese. The foundation offers all of us a means of celebrating our legacy after earthly life ends.
Catholic foundations are not new and exist throughout the country. However, the CFWCW is new to the Catholic community of west-central Wisconsin. Executive Director Rick Jeric was appointed by Bishop William Patrick Callahan this past April to oversee the operation of the newly formed foundation and currently maintains an office in La Crosse. The foundation is an entity separate from the Diocese of La Crosse and exists to support the needs of the diocese in a number of ways such as parish life, vocations, Catholic education and social services. Rick said, “In Christ, the Catholic Foundation of West Central Wisconsin inspires giving and assists donors to provide for the long term needs of the Diocese of La Crosse.”
“Lives distinguished by generosity in all that is done are lives remembered by those who were recipients of this special kindness and love of another.”
Donating to the foundation is done primarily through endowed and planned end-of-life gifts, although it is not restricted to these gifts. Nonetheless, these are gifts that require planning: much in the way family and children are remembered. The role of the Catholic Foundation office is to help people in the gift planning process consistent with their Catholic values.
Eventually, most people will reflect on how they want to be remembered: they reflect on their legacy. No one wants to be forgotten. Fortunately, there are actions that one can take to help preserve one’s memory in others. According to personal growth experts, the most promising ways to achieve this is by being humble, noble, self-sacrificing and thinking of others. Better still, one does not have to be a wealthy philanthropist to be remembered. Simply do what you can and give with all your heart for the benefit of others. Lives distinguished by generosity in all that is done are lives remembered by those who were recipients of this special kindness and love of another.
Rick tells a story about Lynn, whose thoughtfulness and caring lives on after she passed away several years ago. “Lynn left her parish a gift from her estate through an endowment fund at her Catholic foundation. Every year since her passing, the parish receives a check from Lynn’s endowment fund. Lynn remembered her parish and her parish can give back, too. Lynn had a granddaughter who had an unplanned pregnancy. Their parish had been using gifts like Lynn’s to support the Catholic crisis pregnancy center. Her granddaughter and baby received the prenatal care they needed. After a healthy delivery, resources were available to help build the new family. Lynn’s daughter and granddaughter were so thankful, they have already committed a percentage of their future estates to the center and the parish. No doubt, their precious baby will also continue that legacy.”
A foundation, like CFWCW, offers financial advantages when donors pool their monetary gifts with other like-minded individuals to carry on charitable works of the Catholic Church. There are 157 parishes in west-central Wisconsin, many of which are in rural areas with relatively small congregations. In these smaller parishes, financing major projects, or even smaller ones, often depletes the financial resources of the parish. This may force the parish to postpone needed repairs for lack of money to do the work in a timely fashion. This is where the Catholic Foundation can help through their grant-awarding function by providing funds to help pay for parish projects. There are many projects that can benefit from the Catholic Foundation’s help, like Catholic education, faith-based social service organizations such as Catholic Charities, support for seminaries and ministerial enrichment for parishes, religious orders and missions.
When Rick was asked where he thinks the assets of CFWCW could be five years from now, he replied, “I would like to think we could be looking at $20 million to $30 million.” Projects are funded using the interest accrued from investments of the foundation. The principal remains untouched. Rick also stressed that the foundation is not in competition with any ongoing programs in parishes and that the services of the foundation will be available to benefit all Catholics in west-central Wisconsin.
Philanthropy, trusts and foundations conjure images of operating in the domain of financially wealthy people. However, Catholic philanthropy can be for everyone, regardless of their financial wealth. There are many ways to give and leave a legacy. The Catholic Foundation of West Central Wisconsin has been formed to help people at all stages of life to find a meaningful way to benefit others through faithfulness and generosity, thereby passing on the gift of Catholic Faith.
Story by Robert Rogers
Published in the December 2021 Issue of Catholic Life Magazine