Brian T. Olszewski, The Catholic Virginian
St. Michael the Archangel, Glen Allen, one of 14 parishes in the Diocese of Richmond to have a Lumen Christi Legacy Society chapter in its parish, became the first to formally honor its Lumen Christi members when it held a dinner for them at the parish, Thursday, April 25.
The Lumen Christi Legacy Society is part of the diocese’s Legacy Giving Program which is designed to educate parishioners about estate planning and showing them how their parish could benefit from bequests, charitable trusts and other legacy giving options.
In expressing his gratitude to the 15 members of the parish’s Lumen Christi Legacy Society, Father Dan Brady, pastor at St. Michael, shared the story about parishioner Angela D’Allesandro. She did not have much money, but she gave generously of her time to the parish in multiple ways.
When she passed away in 2017, she left a gift of $31,000 from her retirement account to the parish — a gift that became the first deposit in its endowment fund.
“Angela loved St. Michael’s,” the priest said. “We never expected this.”
He noted that people “love the parish and feel strongly about the parish … they want to help sustain the parish in the future with legacy gifts.”
Barry and Rayanne Welsh, who joined St. Michael four years ago after moving from Pennsylvania, echoed Father Brady’s words.
“We love this parish,” Rayanne said.
Barry, who is involved with the parish’s Boys to Men mentoring group, said, “We’ve been very fortunate in our lives. We thought (making a legacy gift) was the right thing to do. It supports the ongoing needs of the church.”
Tom Grant, a retired business attorney, said, “I have a debt to that man,” recalling how Father Brady was present and kind when his wife was dying in 2014.
“When I got on the finance council, a few of us got together and said there are things we ought to be focusing on in terms of increasing revenues for our parish,” Grant said. “It really was an act of love and trying to repay — even though I don’t have the ability to repay — this man who was so kind to me and my wife.”
Steve and Miriam Lindsey, parishioners since 1996, said they believe in giving back to their church community.
“We have been blessed more times than we can express,” she said. “We feel as though this is something we want to contribute to.”
Steve added, “This parish is a very important part of our life. We want to see it grow, to help secure its financial future.
The Lindseys designated their legacy gift to be used for the work of the parish’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference.
“We designated St. Vincent de Paul because we’ve seen so many good things come out of that,” he said.
Mary Sue McClintock, director of evangelization at St. Michael, encouraged Lumen Christi members to invite others to the dinner. The Lindseys invited Joe Kelleher, who said he hadn’t been aware of the legacy giving opportunity. As a result of what he learned, he was going to meet with their three children “to make sure that if we’re not here, they understand we want to do this.”
McClintock said the parish has done a “soft launch” about legacy giving. It was one of the diocese’s three pilot parishes for the Legacy Giving Program.
“It’s been a quiet release where we’ve trickled information about the legacy and St. Michael and put it in bulletins and Flock Notes, but we haven’t done a hard pitch or anything,” she said. “(Father Brady) wanted this to be ‘People can see it, and if they know, then they will come.’ And we’ve never mentioned it in a Mass. It really was one full year of this quiet release, if you will.”
She noted that Father Brady “was adamant that (the dinner) was not a sales pitch.”
“He said, ‘We are here to celebrate the people and honor the people that have thought about the future of St. Michael and our concern that it has a legacy,’” she said.
Deacon Andy Ferguson, director of administration at St. Michael, noted one of the qualities Lumen Christi and potential Lumen Christi members shared.
“When you are intentional about what you want to do when you pass away, I think is a great tribute to our parishioners to think that they’d be intentional about remembering St. Michael,” he said. “I know they’ve had an impact on us. Hopefully, we’ve had an impact on them. Hopefully, the parish has had an impact on them.”
Editor’s note: Parishes and parishioners interested in learning more about legacy gifts in general and the Legacy Giving Program in particular can contact Maggie Keenan at mkeenan@richmonddio cese.org or 804-622-5221.