Fr. Donatello Iocco, left, with St. Ambrose Church organist Gregory Furmanczyk at the Allen AP-35 organ a donor gave to the parish. Photo by Gordon Mansell

A gift in-kind is often better than cash, Toronto's St. Ambrose parish finds out

By 
  • November 3, 2016

TORONTO – Cash may be king, but to a parish in need, a donation in kind is just as majestic.

It’s a situation Fr. Donatello Iocco recently experienced at St. Ambrose parish in Toronto’s west end.

The parish had been getting by with its old organ, which was on its last legs. Bringing an organ technician in, Iocco was told the organ could be fixed, but the technician was forthright in explaining he might have to return within a month for more repairs.

Being on the lookout for a new organ was not in Iocco’s plans. Quite frankly, the parish couldn’t afford it. Renovations are already underway to make the church more accessible to physically challenged parishioners with a hydraulic lift being installed as well as modifications to the bathrooms.

But within a month, Iocco heard from Gordon Mansell, the Ontario dealer for the Allen Organ Company who is also the music director and organist at Toronto’s Our Lady of Sorrows parish. Mansell had been trying to sell an organ on consignment for a family for a couple of years. Not meeting with much success, Mansell asked the family to explore donating it to a church in need. The family agreed. All they wanted in return was a tax receipt for the organ’s appraised value.

St. Ambrose fit the bill perfectly.

“The timing was impeccable,” said Iocco.

Valued at $20,000, the 10-year-old Allen AP-35 organ — “a really fine instrument,” according to Mansell — will now be able to enrich the liturgy at St. Ambrose for years and it comes without the parish adding to its debt load by taking out another loan.

“It was a large amount we weren’t able to pay,” said Iocco. “We were happy to take it.”

Iocco said an in-kind donation is just as good as a cash donation. While “any donation is a good donation,” he said he can’t emphasize enough what this means to a parish that is always minding its dollars.

“It frees you up so you are not owing, so you’re not still paying it off,” he said. “It frees you up for a lot of the necessary things” a parish needs to tend to its congregation.

Iocco encourages people to think along these lines when they consider a donation to their parish.

“Sometimes it seems we’re always asking for money,” he said. “Something valuable, your church can always benefit from it.”

Quentin Schesnuik, manager of planned giving and personal gifts with the Archdiocese of Toronto, said the organ donation is a case of everything lining up perfectly: a well-meaning donor with a parish that is in need.

“It’s nice that what a donor had and what a church needed dovetailed well,” said Schesnuik.

“It has the right spirit about what a gift should do.”

These are not the kinds of gifts the archdiocese sees on a regular basis, perhaps five or six times a year, he said. When someone has an in-kind gift they would like to donate, a donor should ask themselves a couple questions.

“How does this enhance the liturgy? How does it elevate the life of the church?”

In St. Ambrose’s case, the answer was plain to see.

“The parish now has a better Mass” for generations to come, said Schesnuik.

(Conlon is a freelance writer in Regina, Sask.)

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