Shepherd's Trust - Giving back to a priest who gave to you

  • November 1, 2011

TORONTO - “He was always there for me.” “He anointed her.” These are just a few of the words Catholics Maria Silva-Alton and Betty Klauke have to say about priests who have meant so much to them over the years.

Silva-Alton, a parishioner of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Brampton, Ont., says priests like Fr. Vid Vlasic have been invaluable to her and her family. Not only was he a mentor to her as a student when he was chaplain at Toronto’s Notre Dame High School, Silva-Alton said, Vlasic was also a friend.

The two reconnected years after their paths first crossed when Silva-Alton was an adult and married with children. She says Vlasic has also inspired her own children to embrace their Catholic faith.

The story is very similar for Klauke, a parishioner at Aurora’s Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, and Fr. Don MacLean. MacLean has provided comfort and inspiration to Klauke’s mother and has presided at many family weddings and baptisms over the years. He visited Klauke’s mother at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital, he received her into the Catholic Church and anointed her just before she died.

Silva-Alton and Klauke’s stories are featured in the Shepherd’s Trust’s new fundraising campaign to highlight the importance of a legacy fund for retired priests. The Shepherd’s Trust is a retirement fund — there is no official retirement plan for archdiocesan priests — for Toronto’s priests. Its mission is to raise awareness and funds to ensure that elderly, retired and disabled priests are provided with sufficient financial resources to lead dignified lives after their years of ministry.

The Shepherd’s Trust has been around for 15 years now, and Fr. Timothy Hanley is hoping the campaign will soon reach its overall goal of raising $43.3 million for retired priests and those who will retire in the future. As of the start of this campaign, the cumulative donations stand at $35 million.

“It is through the magnificent generosity of the people of the archdiocese over the past 15 years that we have come this far,” said Hanley, a member of the board of trustees for the Shepherd’s Trust. “(This campaign) is about caring for those who cared for us.” 

Currently, there are about 80 retired priests in the Toronto archdiocese. In the coming years, more priests are expected to retire.

The idea is to hit the target and the Shepherd’s Trust will then take care of itself in the future, said Hanley.

“We mean for this not to be a perennial campaign. Once the full funding amount is achieved, we will be able to retire, so to speak, this collection,” Hanley explained.

The annual Shepherd’s Trust collection in the archdiocese will take place at Masses throughout the archdiocese Nov. 12-13. The fund also raises money through its annual golf tournament.

Hanley said Shepherd’s Trust has received an increase of more than $500,000 in recent donations through bequests and wills and current priests in the archdiocese have been adding funds to the total as well.

Bequests and wills would be a “concrete way of honouring the service of both your current priest and the ones who served you in the past,” Hanley said.

For more information, contact (416) 934-3400 ext. 614 or visit

Ways to give to Shepherd’s Trust

Gifts of Cash: This has been the most popular method of support. Donations can be made through your parish on the weekend of Nov. 12 to 13 or online through a secure server on the Shepherd’s Trust web site.

Bequests: A bequest is a specific provision in your will which directs estate assets to be given to the Shepherd’s Trust. These gifts can symbolize permanent memorials for you, your family or anyone you wish to honour.

Publicly traded stocks and securities: Donors will receive a tax receipt for the full amount of their gift. Also, the tax on capital gains on publicly traded securities gifted to registered charities has been eliminated.

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