Fr. Rudolf Philip Volk was a strong supporter of ShareLife, in life and death.

Legacy endowment lets you give support in life and death

  • November 7, 2015

TORONTO - Fr. Rudolf Philip Volk served his family as a parent, his community as a priest and, in his death, the Church as a financial supporter for those in need.

Volk, who served as a deacon and became a priest after his wife’s death in 1987, died in early 2015. Through his estate, he donated $40,000 to ShareLife, the Archdiocese of Toronto’s charitable fundraising arm.

“He had always been a strong supporter of ShareLife and he just wanted to make sure that he continued supporting it after his death,” said Peter Volk, his son and executor of his father’s estate. “When I was a teenager that was probably when I was first aware that he made donations. Every year, he made sure that he made donations. Before he became a priest, he actively solicited donations on behalf of ShareLife. And after he became a priest, he preached about the benefits of it from the pulpit.”

Legacy gifts, such as Volk’s financial bequest, is added to ShareLife’s Legacy Endowment Fund, which produces an annual contribution for ShareLife. The organization financially supports more than 40 charitable agencies and recipients of grants.

“So each year, whenever we receive an estate gift, it’s put into the Legacy Endowment Fund, and then each year a small portion of that amount, which is basically on earnings, is given to ShareLife to be distributed to agencies,” said Arthur Peters, executive director of ShareLife.

Often, individuals will name ShareLife in their will without informing the organization in advance, he said, but if they want more information, staff will be able to help them “match their desires with the appropriate agency” and provide them with all the relevant information.

“We’re grateful for the support of many people in the archdiocese toward ShareLife,” said Peters. “Donating to the Legacy Endowment Fund or leaving a gift in a Will, not only to ShareLife, but any of the archdiocesan charities, helps to give thanks for the gift that we have received on Earth and to make an impact after we’re gone.”

Volk’s impact was felt in the archdiocese long before he became a priest as his support for the Church was strong for decades.

“It had always been such an important part of his life, from the time he was a child, but certainly once he married my mother. They were very devout and very strong in their faith. (It was) just very much a part of him,” said Peter. “I don’t think there was a whole lot of thought needed on his part about making the donation. It was a natural extension of how he led his whole life.”

Volk also included a separate bequest in his Will to Covenant House, an agency for homeless youth in downtown Toronto, which is also supported by ShareLife.
Volk married his wife, Margaret Doreen Dwyer, in 1953. The two had six kids in 10 years. He worked as an x-ray serviceman and went on to reinvent himself as a graphic arts salesman and businessman.

“My mom had always joked… that if she had died before my dad, he better become a priest,” Peter said. A year after she died, Volk entered the seminary and was ordained in 1990. He spent some of his happiest years serving as a spiritual leader at St. Patrick’s parish in Mississauga, Ont.

“He was the rare priest… He’d been a parent, he’d been a grandparent, he’d helped people through weddings, divorces, you name it. On top of that, he’d also been a successful businessperson, from a high school education to middle management in a company,” said Peter. He had “a breadth of real-world experience, family and professional.”

At his father’s funeral, a number of people expressed to Peter and his siblings how their father helped them as a priest.

“He was a genuinely caring and compassionate person who, I think it should be said, delivered that care and compassion with a healthy dose of humour,” said Peter. “His legacy is that you need to be committed to your family, your community and your faith. And he lived that to a ‘T.’ ”

(Remy is a freelance writer in Toronto.)

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