Planned Giving: Creative Ways to Help

Donor Stories

Irene Sidun

Like many friends of Saint Lawrence Seminary, Irene Sidun doesn’t recall how she first came to know about us. Nor does she remember that she began to support our seminarians more than 20 years ago – back in 1996! But Irene can’t forget the changes that have occurred in our Church over the last 50 years, especially the concerning shortage of priests. Irene knows that the sacrifices she makes on behalf of Saint Lawrence Seminary are really an investment in the future of the Church. To quote Irene, “We need more priests!”
  Because Irene is so convinced that Saint Lawrence is making a positive impact on solving the priest shortage, she has decided to remember the Seminary in her estate plan. By making this special gift, she feels she is doing her part to ensure that future generations of Catholics will not have to worry about who will be there to guide them in their relationship with the Lord.
  Irene has seen first-hand what it is like to have too few priests. She is a member of a very large parish, yet it is served by a single priest. Years ago, four priests would have occupied the rectory, saying Mass, hearing confessions and ministering in many different ways to the parishioners. Today, one priest, with the help of two deacons, is responsible for everything.
  For 47 years Irene worked hard, and along the way learned a thing or two about investing. In addition, she is a coupon-clipper, looking for bargains wherever she can. Because of her frugality, she is able to enjoy a comfortable and active retirement. Until she turned 85, she enjoyed playing competitive tennis. Today, although the tennis racket is tucked in a corner, Irene keeps quite active, making plans for the years to come while also planning to help those whom she loves when God calls her home.
  Saint Lawrence Seminary is proud to call Irene a friend. We are honored that she has given us a place of honor in her will. As a member of our Legacy of Vocations Society, Irene will have a perpetual remembrance in our daily prayers and Masses. It is the best gift we can offer to one who has been so generous to us.
  To learn more about the Legacy of Vocations Society, or about the many ways you can support the future of Saint Lawrence Seminary, contact Jim Paterson in our Planned Giving Office at 1-888-526-8100.


Gene Fechhelm

I first set foot on “the Hill” in the summer of 1954 – almost 62 years ago! My uncle, a Capuchin priest, encouraged me to enter the seminary. The retreat I attended there as a seventh grader tugged at my heart; I was sure the good Lord was calling me to be a priest. Although many decades have passed, I will always be grateful to the Capuchins and Saint Lawrence Seminary for the excellent education and formation I received in the six years I spent in Mt. Calvary. They were some of the happiest days of my life.
  I was taught by some of the greatest Capuchin priests the Lord has called to His service. I have so much to be thankful for to the Capuchins and to the students of Calvary who sustained me and my spiritual growth throughout those wonderful days. Our class motto was “Do Little Things Well,” which I put to good use throughout my life.
  After Saint Lawrence, I continued my priestly vocation at St. Francis Major Seminary in Milwaukee. It was in the three years there that I came to realize that the Lord did not call me to his priestly service.
  In 1965 I took a sabbatical from the seminary and soon thereafter Uncle Sam pressed me into his service during the buildup to the Vietnam conflict. I spent the first six years in the military as a staff sergeant with my first duty station in New Delhi, India. It was there that I met Kay, my wonderful and beautiful wife of 47 years.
  After 28 years of military service, I retired in 1993 and followed up with a career as a human resource manager until 2007, when I fully retired. I attribute a lot of my success in life and in the military to the experience and nurturing I received at Saint Lawrence Seminary.
  My heartfelt wish is that many young men will have the same opportunity to experience the “Hill of Happiness” and to serve the Lord in an extra special way as I did. That is why my wife and I decided to include Saint Lawrence Seminary as a beneficiary of our trust. So many Saint Lawrence Seminary alumni make the work of the Lord and the Capuchins come alive each and every day. Our investment in the future of the seminary gives us such great satisfaction.


John S. Reder

I received a card one day from a priest friend who came from Saint Lawrence Seminary. I did some checking on it, as I was not familiar with the seminary, and found that its mission was not only to take youngsters in for high school but to give them direction to become priests and brothers. Many of those youngsters came from families that could not afford to send their sons to other seminaries here in the United States. In talking with some Capuchin priests here in my diocese, I learned more about the mission of the seminary. Knowing the work that was being done there, I decided to become involved. In reading some of the literature about Saint Lawrence, it reminded me of an institution that was extending a “hand-up” and not a “hand-out.” This is what I was interested in being part of, and so from that date on I was on board.
  It is my hope that this seminary will be a springboard for many of these youngsters who will take a vocation to the priesthood very seriously; as we are all aware, we need more men to aspire to this way of life. For those who discern a different path God is calling them to, the background they receive from Saint Lawrence will be most helpful in whatever vocation they choose.
  Some years ago, I met two wonderful Capuchin priests: Frs. Daniel J. Fox and James Hast. They are shining examples of how the Capuchin Order has shaped men who inspire those whose lives they touch. I hope that through my support of the Seminary, I might be able
to nurture the vocational path of some young man as he listens to God’s voice.
  Thirty-eight years in the Office of Sheriff have exposed me to many things and many people, some good and some not so good. However, I believe I have learned that giving someone a hand-up is the best method to nurture growth. I will continue to extend a helping
hand to Saint Lawrence Seminary to honor the blessings received from my parents and members of my family.


John Drzewicki

My relationship with Saint Lawrence Seminary came about due to a recruiter for the Seminary. Fr. Mel came to visit my grade school when I was only 11 years old. That summer I attended my first retreat at Saint Lawrence Seminary. In the fall of 1967, I became a freshman.
  Being a seminarian at Saint Lawrence Seminary has had a profound effect in my life. I often think of my days on the “Hill,” how tough we thought we had it, but in reality these were some of the best days of my life.
  In 1990, after working in the insurance business, I purchased a life insurance policy naming Saint Lawrence Seminary as the beneficiary. I made this decision because of the profound effect the Seminary made in my life.
  It’s hard to explain how those years at Calvary formed me. The years spent at Saint Lawrence Seminary fashioned me to be a “Son of Calvary!” We learned about integrity, love of God, family, Church, perseverance, humility, and most of all, service to others. My experience is repeated by the thousands of Sons of Calvary before me and those yet to come who will become pillars in their faith communities by ministering to others.
  My wife, Sally, and I will continue to support Saint Lawrence Seminary because we see how the Gospel life is lived by so many who experience God’s love emanating from all touched by the spirit of the Seminary. I am cognizant of the many needs of Saint Lawrence Seminary and have great faith in the Seminary’s judgment and stewardship. We also feel a need to “give back” for all the blessings God has provided in our lives.
  Our class motto was: “I am third;” God, neighbor, myself. Trying to keep this in mind will help a person to realize the important things in life and why we were put here. It reminds me of where I came from and serves as a “compass” as to where I’m going. I’m hoping my humble gift to Saint Lawrence Seminary will help further the work of the Capuchins by attracting new seminarians who will then continue the important ministry of Saint Lawrence Seminary for future generations. As you soul search, I encourage you (and especially alumni) to remember Saint Lawrence Seminary in your giving.


Joe Hebda

This past summer I retired from my “day job” after 44 years at eight different businesses in the computer industry. Reflecting back on my years at Saint Lawrence Seminary (1962-66 HS, and 1966-68 Jr. College), here are some thoughts I would like to share with you all:
  It was after middle school Confirmation at my local parish (St. John the Baptist at Rib Lake, Wisconsin) that I felt called to serve the church. Our Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin, was “mission territory” at its founding back in 1905, so there was always a priest shortage (even today) and my dream and goal was to be a missionary right here. After meeting with our pastor, Fr. Robert Stock, C.P.P.S. (Congregation of the Precious Blood), he encouraged me to first write to our bishop, George Hammes, also a Saint Lawrence Seminary alumnus. On our bishop’s recommendation, I applied to enter SLS for the class of 1962. As I remember, it was quite the challenge completing the application process and arranging the financial help from our diocese’s seminary fund.
  Once here, I soon realized the multiple challenges to balance studies with the many activities (band and library for me). There were times when I thought of leaving, but then realized the great faith environment and the support of spiritual directors and classmates, and would pray for perseverance. With time, I came to realize that my talents and abilities were needed elsewhere, in the computer industry. I now realize that what we may “want” and “like” are not always part of God’s plans for our life. Still, I carry many good memories of my days at SLS.
   There are many ways of helping others through various ministries, and that can include financial assistance. Knowing of the monetary sacrifices of my parents and grandparents during my student years, I hope that my contributions to Saint Lawrence will help other young people in a similar situation.   Looking to the future, there are several reasons why I have named Saint Lawrence Seminary in my will:   First: From my years at SLS, I observed firsthand and helped with fundraising efforts (bulk mailing appeals) to meet the day-to-day needs of the seminary.
  Second: Because of the various financial challenges that I have faced over the years, I have myself adopted a “voluntary poverty” lifestyle modeled after St. Francis and the Capuchin Friars.
  Third: I know of the good stewardship of all funds donated to Saint Lawrence.
  Today there was a news story about a simple act of kindness – a police officer purchasing warm winter boots for a local homeless man out on the streets.
  I would like to challenge my fellow alumni to consider another act of kindness: making a contribution to Saint Lawrence as you are best able. To this day, I remember my first “Saint Lawrence experience,” arriving one day early (because of the Greyhound bus schedule), and another simple act of kindness. After arriving, the Father who drove me to SLS from Fond du Lac gave me an ice cream at the student canteen. A kindness forever remembered! Your contribution to Saint Lawrence can set in motion future good deeds of which you will never know this side of heaven.
  As I read and hear of events at SLS (just signed up for Facebook last year), and on-going changes, I feel confident that Saint Lawrence Seminary is doing a great job of helping prepare young men to serve the church. While we do have an anti-church, anti-Catholic news media, it is nothing new throughout history. For me, I do cast my “vote” to Saint Lawrence Seminary – dare I say “two thumbs up!”.


Bob Martini

A chance encounter in an airport was the beginning of a lifelong friendship for Bob Martini. While on a business trip, he met Fr. Val Thibedeau, a Capuchin missionary from Okinawa. Fr. Val greatly impressed Bob and they became friends. Bob, an electrical engineer, eventually became a benefactor in support of Fr. Val’s missionary efforts until Fr. Val’s untimely death in 1986. After Fr. Val passed away, Bob and his wife (now deceased) learned that Fr. Val was a graduate of Saint Lawrence and began making gifts in his memory to our Seminary.
  As a result of this chance airport encounter, Bob’s love for the Capuchins grew. He appreciated their simple way of life and their ministry as followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. To help the Capuchins continue their good work, and to honor their good friend, Fr. Val, Bob and his wife decided to include Saint Lawrence Seminary in their will. With this gift, they intend to help the Capuchin Friars in their special ministry of educating young men as they discern God’s call in their lives. Their fondest hope is to encourage as many young men as possible to follow in the footsteps of Fr. Val Thibedeau.


Helping to Propagate the Faith: Agustin and Liza dela Pena

Just like most families, the Agustin and Liza dela Pena family has had its share of ups and downs in their life. Agustin and Liza feel that their faith has always pulled them through some of their most challenging experiences. If anything, they believe that their family has grown stronger because of their faith and they know that this is because of God’s loving presence in their lives. They feel that He has blessed them in so many ways and, accordingly, they felt the need to give back to the Lord.
  After considerable thought for a very long time about what they could do, and their realization that the Church is in need of priests to help propagate the faith throughout the world, they decided to create a charitable gift annuity with Saint Lawrence Seminary. They hope that with their leadership, more people will discover the unconditional love and numerous blessings that only the Lord can provide. They further hope that others follow their example by creating a charitable gift annuity with Saint Lawrence, or by naming us in their will, thus helping to secure our future in our sacred ministry of helping young men to hear God’s call in their lives.


Laura and Len Bobbio Follow Saint Padre Pio to Saint Lawrence Seminary’s Doorstep

Our friends and supporters first come to us in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. When asked to tell their story and why they felt initially connected to us, many simply can’t remember. But for Len and Laura Bobbio, the answer is crystal clear.
  It was the Capuchin friar, Saint Padre Pio, whom they felt led them to Saint Lawrence Seminary’s “doorstep.” Because of their great affection for Padre Pio and the fact that he was a member of the Capuchin Order, they felt compelled to respond to a letter they received from us years ago. That letter asked them to help support the education of a young man discerning God’s call to the priesthood.
  In addition to the regular gifts they send to help defray the daily costs of educating and training our
seminarians, the Bobbios have also created several charitable gift annuities with us. Len explains that their gift annuities provide them with both the opportunity to support the young men who are discerning a vocation, and an excellent income for them for life. Additionally, they are structured to provide Laura with additional financial security if Len dies before her.
  In explaining their reasons for creating charitable gift annuities with Saint Lawrence, Len and Laura added that they enjoy the feeling they get by doing good. They have a strong and deep faith, and feel it is with God’s blessing that they are able to give. They said they want to do their share to ensure that our Church has strong and faithful leaders in the years to come.


Martha Brescia

As a nun, Martha Brescia was imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II. During this time, there were many, many dark days for her. Her great love for Jesus kept her going during this difficult time.
  During her imprisonment she was able to keep a picture of Jesus in her possession and hidden from the Nazis. Today she states with a firm conviction that this picture is her most prized possession. Nothing else that she owns matters.
  As years went by, Martha eventually left the convent and became a college professor and author. By scrupulously saving and watching the financial markets, Martha was able to provide for herself. However, she never claimed credit for her successes in life. She says that it was all God’s work and part of His plan for her.
  To complete that plan, Martha has decided to leave her estate to charity. Martha says that her money is really God’s money and that she is simply distributing it where it will do the most good.
  In that spirit, Martha has made Saint Lawrence Seminary a beneficiary of her revocable trust. Martha wants to help provide an environment that will foster and encourage the young men of Saint Lawrence to hear God’s call to love and serve His Church. That is her wish, pure and simple. God’s Church is all-important to her and she hopes that those who read her story might be encouraged to follow her example.


Tom and Fran Winkel

Tom Winkel has been a part of Saint Lawrence Seminary's extended family for over 55 years. Tom and his wife, Fran, have a deep and abiding love for the Seminary and firmly believe in its role of educating future priests and leaders of the Church.
  Besides offering their regular support, the Winkels have chosen to extend that support by naming Saint Lawrence in their Last Will and Testament. Although their two children are the primary beneficiaries of their estate, Tom and Fran have decided to also leave a portion to Saint Lawrence.
  By making larger gifts to their favorite charities as part of their estate plan, the Winkels can rest easily knowing that the fruits of their lifetime work will be there in future years should the need arise.
  The Winkels want to help Saint Lawrence Seminary continue to thrive well into the future. They point
out with pride that their current gifts and future intentions have provided an environment where two alumni recently became solemnly professed as Capuchins, others professed with Temporary Vows and where nine members of last year's graduating class have continued on with formation towards the priesthood.
  The Winkels' future gift intentions will help to strengthen the legacy that they have already created
for themselves at Saint Lawrence many years ago. They ask that you join them in creating your own legacy with Saint Lawrence Seminary by naming us in your estate plan too.


Fr. Norm Krutzik

  It all started with a simple phone call.

  Fr. Norm Krutzik, a priest of the Green Bay, Wisconsin diocese, had called Saint Lawrence Seminary to inquire about a charitable gift annuity. He had some stock that he wanted to use for funding.
  Dan Woehrer, our Director of Planned Giving, met with Fr. Norm and discovered that there were several charities that he wanted to help support. After assessing Fr. Norm's interests and charitable inclinations, Dan suggested creating a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust. Also known by its initials, a CRAT would enable Fr. Norm to receive a fixed annual income stream during his retirement years, and provide for eventual distribution to his favorite charities.
  By creating and funding a CRAT, Fr. Norm was able to select the payout amount (minimum 5%) that best fit his needs and, as is the case with many stocks that pay meager or no dividends, he was able to leverage his gift into a higher annual income from the CRAT than he received from the stocks.
  Fr. Norm also was entitled to a charitable deduction based on his age and the payout amount in the year he created the CRAT. And, by using appreciated stock, Fr. Norm was able to defer any capital gains that would be due until a later date. Plus, as a bonus, the CRAT gave Fr. Norm the ability to include his favorite charities as eventual beneficiaries of his trust, as well as the option of adding or subtracting charities in the future.
  Fr. Norm's initial meeting with Dan Woehrer was more than six years ago. Since then, Fr. Norm has remarked several times that creating a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust was one of the best things he has ever done. He has said that he would recommend it to anyone. It is a wonderful way for an individual to receive both a steady stream of income and to benefit charities such as Saint Lawrence Seminary in the future.


Joan Stokes

  Sometimes all it takes is a comment by a friend or an introduction by a family member. For Joan Stokes, it was a Christmas card she received in 2001.
  That card introduced her to a place in rural Wisconsin run by Capuchin friars that gives young men a place where they can discern God's calling in their lives. That place is Saint Lawrence Seminary.
  Joan wanted to help young men who were not able to afford the room, board and tuition required of them and their families, in the hope that some of those young
men would someday become priests or religious and lay ministers. As Joan's association with Saint Lawrence grew, she was so inspired that she named the Seminary as a beneficiary of her will.
   That wonderful gesture came to be all because of a simple Christmas card.
  Joan's motivation is very simple. She is a woman of great faith and attends Mass daily. Her local parish has a resident priest. She realizes that these days many parishes don't have any priests, and she can understand the spiritual hunger those parishioners must feel.
  Joan felt she needed to do something to help secure the future of our Church, and she knows her support of Saint Lawrence Seminary helps the Capuchins provide an environment that encourages young men to become priests or religious and lay ministers within the Church.
  Joan hastens to add that in addition to designating Saint Lawrence Seminary as a beneficiary of her will, she will continue to make annual gifts. "Even though times are difficult, the ability to make even a small donation is a blessing." We are blessed to count Joan as a member of the Saint Lawrence Seminary family.


Fr. Ray Valerio, Class of 1949

   As a retired priest, Fr. Ray Valerio (Class of 1949) still loves to visit Saint Lawrence Seminary, also known to its students and alumni as the "Hill of Happiness." Coming to the "Hill" as a high school junior in 1947, he speaks fondly of his time as a student, calling the Seminary "one of my favorite places to visit, even today."
   That is why, with the advice and assistance of his insurance agent, Fr. Ray decided to name Saint Lawrence Seminary as the beneficiary of one of his insurance policies. Because Fr. Ray made the decision to transfer ownership to Saint Lawrence as both the owner and beneficiary, he was entitled to an income tax deduction equal to the lesser of the fair
market value of the policy or the dollars he paid into the policy as premiums. This deduction helped Fr. Ray to minimize several years of income taxes.
   Fr. Ray's gift not only added to his legacy with Saint Lawrence, but was fueled by his desire to provide support for the educational and spiritual environment of the Seminary years into the future.
   Fr. Ray believes that the Capuchin friars provide "young men an excellent education, not only in academics, but in spiritual formation and the development of character." He finds it remarkable that even today, after its humble origins of more than 150 years ago, the Seminary is still preparing young men "to become spiritual leaders in society."


Mary Stewart

   Mary Stewart has a passion. A widow, a mother and a grandmother, she fervently wants to see more priests ordained and in active ministry. That is what Mary prays for at daily Mass. It is also why she has chosen Saint Lawrence Seminary as a beneficiary of her IRA upon her passing.
   IRAs can make excellent gifts to charity. The assets inside an IRA are invested tax-free until they are withdrawn. Once withdrawn, they are taxed at ordinary income tax rates. It is the beneficiary who pays the taxes even though the IRA is included, for estate tax purposes, in a decedent's estate. Depending on the residency of the decedent, the size of the decedent's estate, and the federal and state income tax bracket of the beneficiary, taxes of 60% or more can be assessed against the IRA.
   If a qualified charity is tax- exempt, it will pay no taxes upon receipt of a gift from an IRA. Therefore, it is a wise tax and estate planning strategy to give to charity assets that have not been previously taxed and to give to family those assets on which you have already paid taxes.
   Mary's decision to use her IRA as a vehicle for giving was done in consultation with her financial and legal advisers. Mary said that her gift is in gratitude to Fr. Dennis for the good work he is doing to encourage vocations and his efforts to build a foundation for young men to become future leaders of the Church. She said she is "bound and determined to help Fr. Dennis with his 'boys.' "


Donald and Cheryl Mueller

   Donald and Cheryl Mueller's roots run deep with the Capuchin friars and Saint Lawrence Seminary. Donald is an alumnus of Saint Lawrence and at one time was Director of the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corp. Cheryl is currently our Campus Minister and is responsible for the spiritual life of the Seminary.
   Donald and Cheryl are nearing retirement and are in a position where they can both plan for their financial future and also give something back to the school they love. To support our efforts, they established a Flexible Deferred Charitable Gift Annuity. This type of gift annuity not only offers them payments for life, it also gives them the option to choose a range of dates when their payments could begin.
The longer they wait, the higher their payout rate will be.
   Both Donald and Cheryl appreciate how the generosity of our benefactors has helped Saint Lawrence Seminary survive and prosper for more than 150 years. They hope that their gift annuity will allow future students to come to know God more deeply and grow in their vocation.
   The Muellers have felt blessed by God's presence in their lives and believe that everything they have has come from God. Donald, in particular, believes that his faith in God is his most treasured "possession." They are grateful that they can make this gift to Saint Lawrence Seminary and hope that others might follow their example.


Barbara Lashley

   Barbara Lashley is like most individuals who are either retired or about to retire. She is worried about her financial future. Barbara is coming up on her retirement, but she prudently started her planning years ago.
   At that time, she created a deferred charitable gift annuity with Saint Lawrence Seminary; it's a type of annuity that will begin providing her with a steady income when she reaches age 70. Even though it's deferred, Barbara was allowed a charitable deduction when she made the gift. And, her annuity payout rate is appreciably higher because she is waiting to receive the payments.
   Barbara was attracted to Saint Lawrence Seminary because of her trust in our 150-year-old institution. The ideals and simplicity of the Capuchin way of life also attracted Barbara. The Capuchins had a profound effect on her in her earlier life.
   Barbara feels that she is not only doing her part to support Catholic education, but that she also has the opportunity to help support young men who want to serve others as priests, religious or lay ministers to God's people.
   She particularly loves knowing that she is supporting seminarians at Saint Lawrence who would not otherwise have had that opportunity if she and others like her did not "leave something behind" when they finally earn their heavenly reward.
   Barbara believes that by creating gift annuities with Saint Lawrence Seminary, she is following God's message to tithe. "If we give, then He gives back to us. We are obligated to do that because He gives us everything and He only wants a small portion back. You are touched in your heart when you know that this is the place where you should be giving."