Candice and Vinzon Pingol, left, who set up an endowment through ShareLife to honour Vinzon’s father, find Legacy Societies an easy way to put their money to use in honouring Ben Pingol. Photos courtesy of the Archdiocese of Toronto

Legacy Society brings out generous spirit

  • November 6, 2017
You can tell a lot about a person by what’s in their Will.

Ninety per cent of people who include a charity keep their act of generosity to themselves. As a result, charities often do not learn about the donation until the person dies. 

Many charities, including those at the Archdiocese of Toronto, are encouraging donors to speak up earlier through the creation of Legacy Societies. Their mission is to thank donors and connect them with other like-minded philanthropists.

“As Catholics, we don’t let the left hand know what the right one is doing,” said Quentin Schesnuik, manager of Planned Giving and Gifts with the archdiocese’s Development and ShareLife office. “We are taught to be humble about our generosity, which is a big reason why many people don’t identify themselves. 

“But what is so great about the Legacy Society is that you have all these like-minded people gathered in one place. Each and every one of them has a story about how the Church has impacted them. They tend to be very passionate people.”

The Legacy Society holds events throughout the year, including an annual Mass followed by a luncheon with Cardinal Thomas Collins. Donors also receive a signed certificate of appreciation from the cardinal and a Legacy Cross. The crosses are handmade by individuals with developmental disabilities at L’Arche Studios and are blessed by the cardinal.

When people with common interests gather, friendships are formed. This is what keeps Candice and Vinzon Pingol coming back.

“Every year we meet at least one new family,” said Vinzon, who set up an endowment through ShareLife to honour his deceased father. “It is wonderful to connect with so many like-minded people who are passionate about giving within the Church community.”

The Pingol’s endowment supports underprivileged families and protects unborn rights, two causes the couple are passionate about. When Vinzon’s father, Ben Pingol, died 12 years ago, the couple planned to start a foundation in his name. 

“But we did our research and learned how complex that would be. So we decided to go through a Church organization, which also fit our needs and values. Everything was so easy through Legacy Societies. We’ve been supporting the archdiocese for years so I couldn’t think of a better way to use that money.”

Ben Pingol was born in the Philippines. He and his wife immigrated to Canada to raise Vinzon and his two brothers.

“My dad came first, then he sent for my mother who was pregnant with me at the time. It was her first time on a plane and she was travelling with two toddlers,” said Vinzon, laughing. 

“But that’s my parents for you. They were strong and courageous. They were loving and giving and taught us the value of hard work. We created this endowment so he could continue to have a positive impact.”

The story of Ben Pingol and his family is just one of the many that are told at Legacy Society events.

“If you get them talking, they will tell you some amazing things,” said Schesnuik. “If you sit down with them and listen to what they have to say, you probably won’t be able to tear yourself away.” 

The Legacy Society does estate planning presentations throughout the archdiocese and sends notices to parishes to raise awareness. Schesnuik says the best way to spread the word is through existing members. 

“One of the greatest challenges we face is getting people to identify themselves,” said Schesnuik. “When members identify themselves, they demystify the whole process and encourage others to do the same.” 

The Pingol family lives in Mississauga and belong to St. Catherine of Siena parish. Vinzon and Candice run their own online e-commerce business and have five children. 

“The Church is how we met,” said Vinzon. “We were both in the Philippines for World Youth Day in 1995, we got married four years later. I have the Church to thank for a lot of things, including Candice. 

“We were literally a match made in Heaven.” 

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