The D’Souza family circa 2008. Marina’s gifts to the Church and ShareLife carry on even after her death. Photo courtesy Noel D’Souza

A life of giving continues beyond the grave

By  Noel D’Souza, Catholic Register Special
  • November 3, 2021

My mother, Marina D’Souza, was born in India, the third of five daughters. She was a sensitive and empathetic child, a trait that would serve her well in her future career.

Coming from a family of doctors, Mom’s original career path was to be in medicine. However, her tendency to faint at the sight of blood put a swift end to that. Instead, Mom turned to teaching, a profession that at the time was not particularly well-respected and didn’t pay well. But that was beside the point: Mom loved teaching young minds. And by all accounts, she was well-loved and respected by her students.

Mom was of course a very good student and had multiple scholarships offered to her for study abroad. She declined study in the United States, opting to further her education in England in 1965. She then returned to Bombay and received her Bachelor of Education, where she stood First Class First, and taught at Canossa Convent school for a few years, then at the well-known Bombay International School. It was during this time that she was introduced to an eligible bachelor by her eldest sister, a man that she would soon call husband and I would call dad. They were married on Christmas Day in 1972. A year later, I came along to inject a little mayhem into their lives.

In 1976, the three of us migrated to Canada. Mom and Dad faced many financial and social challenges and had to start from scratch in their careers. Mom took night courses to “prove” that she was well-educated and capable, along with juggling her job as a teacher and a mother. Initially she struggled to get work as a supply teacher, but her talents landed her a full-time position and she taught at St. Lawrence School and then St. Cyprian School (now Epiphany of Our Lord Academy) for many years, until her early retirement in 1997.  Her quiet retirement was interrupted by a couple of life-changing accidents and the passing of her husband in 2010, but through the adversity she maintained her faith, hope, love and service. She lived happily with me until her passing in May 2021.

Service to God and neighbour was always a big part of the lives of both my parents. They were both lectors at our church and members and household heads of Couples for Christ. Mom was an active member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Mom rarely spent money on herself, but happily donated to our church, ShareLife and a number of charities. There are hundreds of worthy charities in Canada. However, when making a donation to ShareLife, my mother knew the funds would be distributed with care and with Catholic values and principles top-of-mind.

As with many young families, money was tight for several years as my parents worked to establish themselves. This was no small task … they were middle-aged immigrants and at the time their extensive Indian education and experience was given little weight in Canada. But as they became more financially secure, my parents felt more comfortable with growing their commitment of both time and treasure to our parish and to ShareLife. This started with increased donations at the Sunday collection and eventually led to the donation of appreciated securities to ShareLife during the annual Parish ShareLife Appeal, as well as a legacy as part of her estate plan.

In early 2010 my father passed away. With no financial dependents, only one adult child and some savings and investments, my mother had to think more concretely about her own legacy and how best to make it a reality.

Fortunately, she had a son who is a financial planner.

We talked openly about her final wishes and worked together to determine what she could afford to give while meeting her other estate planning goals and how best to make that gift in a simple yet tax-efficient way.

After reviewing her situation, we decided to donate her RRIF as her legacy gift and named the Archdiocese of Toronto and ShareLife as beneficiary of her account. This way the funds would be delivered quickly, without having to wait for the Will to be probated, and would also be tax-efficient.

After setting it up, my mother was relieved to know that even in death she would be supporting the Church and its ongoing mission to spread the good news of salvation.

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