By REBECCA RAKOCZY, Special To The Bulletin | Published December 8, 2011
Paula and Charles Gorgolione wanted to create a lasting gift in memory of Charles’ mother. The couple had inherited some money and wanted to “do good with the money to remember her by.”
The retired Catholic elementary school teacher and vocational high school instructor were already involved in helping Catholic Charities Atlanta’s ministries. So when they learned they could create a charitable gift annuity to benefit Catholic Charities through the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia, they were excited about the opportunity.
With the help of the foundation, they invested in a deferred charitable gift annuity that will pay them quarterly for the rest of their lives. After their deaths the money will go to the Catholic Charities endowment fund.
“We didn’t realize that this avenue existed,” said Paula, until they saw an advertisement for the Catholic Foundation. A year later, they revised their will and included Catholic Charities.
The Gorgoliones are now part of the Deo Gratias Society, a planned giving legacy society for people who have made a will, bequest or other estate gift to a Catholic organization.
“We started the Deo Gratias Society to help identify and recognize those who have made a planned gift in their will to a Catholic organization,” said Nancy Coveny, executive director of the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia.
“Deo Gratias means ‘thanks be to God,’” she said, adding, “Many people give because they are thankful to God, and we (at the Catholic Foundation and the archdiocese) are also thankful.”
Residents of Franklin, N.C., and parishioners at St. Helena Mission in Clayton, the Gorgoliones traveled to Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Atlanta, joining others in the archdiocese that have made bequests, to be part of a special blessing ceremony by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory. The inaugural Mass and luncheon celebrating the members of the Deo Gratias Society was Sept. 24.
“They need to tell us, so they’re included next time,” she said.
The Mass is to be held annually, with next year’s Mass slated for Holy Spirit Church, Atlanta.
Leo and Judith Yager, who also attended the Deo Gratias event, were among the first families to set up a planned gift to the church through the Catholic Foundation. They set up a charitable gift annuity, from which they receive payments. Their annuity is set up so their money will one day be split into thirds: one-third to the building fund at Christ Redeemer Church, Dawsonville, where they are parishioners; one-third to Catholic Charities through the Catholic Foundation; and one-third to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal through the foundation.
Like the Gorgoliones, the Yagers are retired and wanted to make a legacy gift to the church. They had moved to Gainesville from Mooresville, N.C., and Leo said, “We were interested in creating this annuity. We wanted to become complete members of the Archdiocese (of Atlanta).”
Lifelong Catholics, Leo is retired from the institutional furniture manufacturing industry, and Judith taught school and later worked as a real estate broker. They moved to Georgia to be near their children. They’ve made some “solid friendships” here, said Leo. He spoke of their contentment in living in the area and added, “I can’t tell you how impressed we are with Archbishop Gregory, too.”
During the Mass, the archbishop thanked those who “in quiet and sometimes anonymous ways care for the future of their church.” He also blessed special Deo Gratias lapel pins, which were presented to members of the society at the event.
“You are not afraid of the future—but you have invested in a future that you hope will be bright,” Archbishop Gregory said. He thanked the community who use their “time, talents and treasure in a most generous and loving fashion to the benefit of the people and the church.”
“We want individuals to know that they can create their own Catholic legacy,” Coveny said.
The foundation helps families and individuals figure out what’s the best option for them in creating such a legacy, and what their resources are.
Gifts to the foundation are intended to last into perpetuity, she said. They are invested so that the earnings and market growth from the funds provide distributions and grants for the intended purpose of the giver. They are not rainy day or reserve funds for the archdiocese.
The Catholic Foundation also honors those who have left a legacy gift to build the church in North and Middle Georgia. In November, the Catholic Foundation honored the family of Jack J. Spalding, who set up a trust in 1929 to educate new priests for the Atlanta Archdiocese. This trust lasted until the 1990s. This year, Archbishop Gregory signed the paperwork to resurrect the Spalding fund as an endowment through the Catholic Foundation. Many of Spalding’s descendants gathered for a Mass to honor him at the St. Dominic Chapel at the Chancery in Smyrna.
Coveny emphasized that an individual can make a difference even in the current economy. “Even in this economy, people can still make plans in their wills to leave something to the church because they won’t need it anymore when they pass away. It really means that everyone can do something because any amount can be added to an existing fund, and it only takes $5,000 to start a new fund.”
Like the Gorgoliones and the Yagers, individuals can target their bequests to specific Catholic organizations, or to their parish or child’s school, archdiocesan ministry, scholarship funds, or grant-making funds to make a difference for a long time. Their gifts are intended to last into perpetuity, invested for the long term to produce grants forever, Coveny said. This year, the foundation distributed almost $100,000 in grants to Catholic ministries, parishes and schools throughout the archdiocese.
“We believe Christ’s message is that we should be proponents of social justice—it’s the cornerstone of the Catholic faith,” said Gorgoglione.
The couple now knows that they have created a dual legacy—a lasting testament to his mother, and a financial gift that will help those in need in perpetuity.
Coveny said that she’s found that Catholics don’t need “a lot of recognition, but they do appreciate prayers and being a part of Mass.” Many of the donors ask for prayers for their families and for themselves after they pass away.
“So we will honor them every year,” she said.
Mary Anne Castranio contributed to this story. For more information about the Deo Gratias Society, or to understand more about the role of the foundation in supporting Catholic ministries, contact Nancy Coveny at the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia at www.cfng.org.