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Outstanding Helpers
Good begets more good.

by Ellen Volkman

Christian friendship can do so much good. Let me tell you how one close friendship has created a legacy that will help future Marian priests spread the message of Divine Mercy for years to come.

A number of years ago, Hazel established a charitable gift annuity with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. In exchange for her gift of appreciated stock, the Marians promised to send her a quarterly annuity payment for the rest of her life.

Hazel named her dear friend, Betty, as a successor so that after her death, Betty would receive the same fixed gift annuity payments for as long as she lived.

When we were notified that Hazel had died, I called Betty to let her know about the gift Hazel had given her. She was surprised, and she was delighted. She said, "I will use the money to evangelize."

I was learning how much these two women appreciated one another. In describing her friend, Betty says, "Hazel loved to talk about her faith. She had a brilliant mind. She loved to evangelize."

Betty knew of Hazel because of her prominent role in the community, especially as a supporter of Catholic schools. About ten years ago, they began spending a lot of time together. When Betty visited Hazel each week and ran errands for her, they would talk about their faith and about ways to bring others closer to God.

Around this time, Betty was trying to begin Perpetual Adoration in her inner-city parish. "There were many setbacks," she recalls. "I almost gave up. Then I realized that nothing is impossible for God, and the Lord did it. We are now in our tenth year, and the blessings have been tremendous."

She also has dedicated herself to leading people to Jesus through the enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home and through promoting the Divine Mercy message and devotion. Even though attendance for Mass at her parish is usually moderate, almost 1,000 people attend the Mercy Sunday celebration.

Betty especially enjoys evangelizing in nursing homes. She finds that individuals who are sick or dying are eager to get into a right relationship with God. She teaches them how to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and prays with them. She observes that often people who are close to death give great witness to their faith. "They talk freely about going home to Jesus," she says.

She had this same beautiful experience with her friend, Hazel. In her last days, they prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy together, which brought Hazel great peace.

Betty cherishes the friendship she and Hazel shared, and she greatly appreciates the thoughtful gift annuity benefit she receives. In her eyes, it is a reflection of Hazel's desire to do good. "I believe she gave her gift to do more good," Betty explains.

The gift annuity payments are helping Betty continue her ministries. She is also comforted to know that after her death, the funds that are left from Hazel's gift will be used by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception to educate future priests, to spread devotion to Jesus, The Divine Mercy, and to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to serve the Church wherever the need is greatest.

There are several ways to use gift annuities creatively in planning for your own security or for a dependent or a loved one. You can establish a gift annuity with a successor, as Hazel did. You can also create a gift annuity for another person, either during your lifetime or through your will or trust.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of a charitable gift annuity, I would be happy to work with you and your advisors.

Ellen Volkman is Fr. Joseph's Assistant for Special Gifts. You may write her at Association of Marian Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263, or call her toll free at 1-800-462-7426. E-mail:

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