Cardinal Thomas Collins paid tribute to members of the Legacy Society at its annual gathering. Photo coutesy Development Office

Legacy Society says ‘thanks’ to donors

  • November 3, 2019

Retirement brought an end to what Catherine von Zuben called “35 wonderful years in education” where she felt she made a difference in the lives of children under her care.

It also brought a new challenge: how to continue making that difference in the life of others.

It didn’t take long for von Zuben to find a new way to continue giving back to her community.

“I soon realized that there were many opportunities for me to make a difference in other people’s lives by volunteering in any number of areas within the Archdiocese (of Toronto),” said von Zuben, a choir director in Thornhill, Ont., and former principal with the York Catholic District School Board.

 “For the past 20 years I have been busier than I ever imagined.”

She has a particular soft spot for ShareLife, the charitable fund-raising arm of the archdiocese and its partners serving the community, and has served on its board in the past among other volunteer duties. She said it “has always been my favourite charity” and through it and the Office of Stewardship and Development she sought advice on how to best give back to the Catholic Church “in gratitude for all that I had received over these many years.”

To that end, von Zuben has purchased a life insurance policy that is directed to St. Augustine’s Seminary, where future priests are trained to serve the Church. At her death, the seminary will be the beneficiary of the policy. The policy, in life, also allows her to make tax write-offs for the total amount she pays into the policy, which she calls “a win-win situation” — the seminary benefits in the long run and she does likewise over the short haul.

There are plenty of people like von Zuben who make such donations to various charities within the archdiocese. And the Archdiocese of Toronto understands that it is people like von Zuben that help the Church in its efforts to make life easier for so many others. The Legacy Society is its way of thanking those who give so selflessly to others.

“Anybody who has declared a gift in their Will to an archdiocesan charity, we invite them to be enrolled in our Legacy Society,” said Arthur Peters, executive director of ShareLife.

As well as thanking donors, the Legacy Society helps connect donors with like-minded philanthropists who share a common interest in the Church.

Elvira Foronda, also a member of the Legacy Society, has worked with ShareLife and more recently as charitable gifts manager with Catholic Missions In Canada, which gave her “the opportunity to work with and meet a lot of wonderful donors.” 

 She and her husband have their own reasons for including St. Augustine’s Seminary and the Companions of the Cross order of priests in her Will. 

“Because we understand the importance of the work that they do in the formation of our priests. … When we try to imagine the world without this ministry, we realize that there is no salvation. We will be lost,” she said.

Through the Legacy Society she’s met more people who share her charitable convictions.

“It was truly inspiring to hear the various reasons why they have decided to support our Church,” said Foronda.

In the archdiocese, the Legacy Society recognizes these contributions through an annual Mass, luncheon and talk with Cardinal Thomas Collins. Donors also receive a signed certificate of appreciation as well as a Legacy Cross blessed by the cardinal. 

“It’s just a way for people who have left a gift in their Will or estate plan to be thanked, in life, for their gift that will live on past them,” said Peters. “It’s a way of thanking them in life for their generosity in their estate.”

Von Zuben is grateful for the opportunity to continue to give back to a Church and “in return I feel very certain that I will be remembered in the prayers of those studying for the priesthood in our archdiocese” through her gift.

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