Hello fellow parishioners and potential Living Legacy Society members!
The past bitterly cold Friday, January 17th I had the privilege of hosting the first St. James legacy planning event. The event was advertised for two weeks prior in the bulletin and an invitation was US mailed to parishioners age 55 and over. (In hindsight, the invitation should have been mailed to the entire adult parish body because the information was relevant to all adults regardless of age.) The overarching goals for the event included how sound financial and estate-planning methods can minimize the tax burden upon your passing and offer ways that St. James could be included in your Will.
Thirteen inquisitive members of our parish, three outstanding presenters, and our two highly insightful parish priests attended with anticipation and speculation, how will this go? It was the premier event of its kind, and let’s be honest, planned giving is not the most exciting, albeit necessary, topic of conversation. It was crucial to expose this otherwise complicated tangle of information and emotions in a gentle, uncomplicated, a non-overwhelming way. Thankfully, the three presenters were aligned with these goals, and after many weeks of preparation, prayers, and hope for a happy ending, I was incredibly grateful when the event went off without a hitch.
The post-event survey illustrated that nearly all attendees rated the event the highest rating, 5-stars. One person gave it a 5-star rating with additional “+++!!!” written to the side. One attendee rated it 4-stars. All attendees unanimously reported they would recommend the event to their friends. All said they were very excited about the future of St. James. Not only did this event increase awareness of the types of planned gifts out there, we had wonderful discussions and shared many laughs during our nearly 2-hours together. There were several widows in the group, a few singles, and a few married, all with different financial perspectives and situations upon which we reflected. Fr. Matt offered his spiritual leader vantage point in his practical yet heart-tugging manner. A yummy lunch buffet left nobody hungry, and drinks and desserts were aplenty. We even had a little putt-putt golf contest that rendered one female parishioner victorious with her hole-in-one. Her “fabulous prize” sleeve of pink golf balls will remind her of our legacy planning time together the next time she hits the greens. Everybody was provided with literature and ideas to discern back at home and with their financial/estate planners.
The St. James Living Legacy Society is the more recent brainchild of Fr. Matt and I, but certainly this topic has been discussed over the years on more than one occasion. My feeling is that it just never took flight, never got off the ground, never seemed totally necessary. But ensuring financial stability far into the future is the recipe for this faith community’s success and we are all invited to join this mission. While other schools and parishes are seeing unfortunate closures, St. James Parish and School will do just the opposite. St. James will flourish and remain the vibrant and energizing parish that our community has known and loved for over 118 years. I am confident that with education, your love for St. James, your good intentions, and chatter amongst your ministries and friend groups that the Living Legacy Society will gain traction. There is no better way to promulgate the faith, leave a lasting memory, and be the example to others than to become part of this special group.
I am currently planning upcoming events for the Retired Men’s Group and for the Men of St. James. A parish-wide event will be scheduled this spring, so please stay tuned for more information. And, as always, feel free to reach out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 224-345-7212.
Julie Cohen, Development Director