Lili Khayatt said that in her world travels, God was always at her side and will be gifting her estate to the Archdiocese of Toronto to keep up its good works in service of the Lord. Photo courtesy Lili Khayatt

Globetrotter leaving it all to archdiocese

  • November 4, 2021

Adventurous, diverse and remarkable would be three apt words to describe Lili Khayatt’s life.

Now settled in Toronto for the long haul, she is an octogenarian who has called 16 different countries home over the years.

“I am back and will not be getting on a plane any time soon,” said Khayatt with a chuckle.

Acutely aware of how good life has been to her thanks to God, she made the decision soon after returning to Canada in 2018 to leave all her earthly possessions to the Church when she departs from the world. She continues an occasional dialogue with the Archdiocese of Toronto — where she regularly attends Mass at St. Basil’s Parish or St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica — including a letter she sent a couple months back to Peter Okonski, manager of planned giving and personal gifts.

In her letter, Khayatt explained her reasoning behind her decision to put the Church in her Will:

“The Church has been my spiritual comfort and shelter, and my path to the Lord. In gratitude for all that I have received whilst on Earth, I give all I have to the Church to help her continue her good mission in dedication to the service of the Lord, and to spread His praise and glory everywhere. The Lord gave me much in my life. All I have belongs to Him.”

St. Ignatius of Loyola’s acclaimed prayer of giving up all worldly possessions concludes Khayatt’s letter.

"The Lord has given me much in my life. All I have belongs to Him."

- Lili Khayatt

God’s destiny for Khayatt to be a world traveller was apparent early on as she lived in Iraq, England, Iran and Lebanon before she reached the age of majority. For many years she was married to a Canadian diplomat, so moves to new exotic destinations nearly every other year was just a way of life. Countries of residence included Belgium, Switzerland, France and Bahrain.

A compelling component of her life is how she wore a variety of professional hats. She was a receptionist at the Canadian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, operated her own aerobics gym in Madrid, Spain, taught English in multiple countries and worked as a real estate broker in Toronto in the 1980s.

While she made the decision to give her possessions to the archdiocese before COVID-19, she says the pandemic shifted her outlook.

“It put everything into correct perspective and made my priorities very clear about what it means to be in this world but not of it,” she said. “When I was travelling, I had a lot of distractions — just too many things were occupying my mind. I was not as devotional as I would have liked to be, but the Lord was there for me.”

She felt her “only recourse was to pray” in response to the world basically coming to a stop for many months.

“It was such a shock. I just prayed, prayed and prayed, and the Lord heard me. I haven’t stopped since.”

Khayatt wants to add that while no family members are in her Will, she has exhibited care and love for them by bestowing gifts while she is alive.

Knowing personal a process it is to formulate a Will, Khayatt says she would not outright campaign for other people to leave everything to the Church like she has.

“It is so personal and everyone’s circumstances are so different. But if they are religious, believe and have faith, I think they will come to that idea on their own. They don’t need encouragement from me,” she said.

“It is good, though, to leave something behind that will go to the glory of God.”

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