Donor passes along the gift of education

  • September 7, 2013

TORONTO - A student at St. Michael’s Choir School was able to return to class at the renowned Toronto school this September thanks to the financial assistance of an anonymous donor who is covering his tuition of about $5,000.

The young boy’s name and circumstances are being withheld, but in a letter to his sponsor, he expressed his gratitude for being able to continue to study at the school he loves.

“I’ve never done something life this before, sponsoring a child,” said the sponsor, who also wished to remain anonymous. “It is kind of exciting because you can touch a life.”

What makes it more exciting for the donor is that despite living far away from St. Michael’s Cathedral, where the school’s choirs sing weekly, the sponsor frequently attends Mass there. “I don’t live close to it ... but I consider the cathedral my church,” she said.

“I probably see this little boy walking up and down the aisles at the beginning and end of the Mass.”

While it is the donor’s dollars which are providing the boy the opportunity to continue to have his gifts and talents fostered at the Choir School, she humbly passed the credit on to Quentin Schesnuik, manager of the archdiocese of Toronto’s planned giving and personal gift department.

“Actually it was Quentin himself who suggested it and I thought it was a great idea and very rewarding,” she said.

The woman got the idea after attending a seminar Schesnuik gave earlier this year.

“I was giving an estate planning session and she attended it and during the presentation I guess it sparked a few thoughts in her mind,” Schesnuik said. “She had mentioned to me that definitely she wanted to think of estate planning and gifts in her will but she wanted to look at making some of the gifts during her life to make an impact while she was still alive so she could see some of the good work that her money was doing. So I talked to her a little bit about where her heart was and where she wanted to make a difference because within the Church there are so many different areas.”

As a retired university professor who focused much of her research on the family unit and the effects of poverty, sponsoring the education of a child who’s family had come upon hard times seemed natural.

“I think it is a perfect fit,” she said.

So this September that young boy made his way to the Choir School with his uniform on, books in hand and tuition paid in full — a gift which the donor intends to repeat annually if the need is there.

“As time goes on the donor wants to continue to be there to support this child,” said Schesnuik.

“So next year she’s made a commitment that she wants to assist him with his tuition again to just help to get that education and the opportunities that he can to use the gifts that he has been given to better himself in life.”

“I have enough money,” she said. “I am all provided for and what the hell am I going to do with the rest (of the money), take it with me? Every year that I get old I look at that and think, ‘Gee, I have more money than last year invested so what am I going to do with this?’ ”

For now she said she intends to continue to use about $15,000 annually to support a dozen charities as well as sponsor the young boy’s education.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.