A Tax-Wise Way to Help the Franciscans
IRA owners now have the option of satisfying their required minimum distribution with an easy-to-arrange IRA gift to qualified nonprofit organizations, like the Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province.
Here’s what you need to know about IRA “charitable rollover” gifts:
• You must be 70 ½ or older when you make your gift.
• You can transfer up to $100,000 annually without triggering income tax.
• You can use your gift to satisfy some or all of your RMD.
• Your IRA custodian must make the distribution directly to the charity.
• Your IRA gift will pass to the Franciscans tax-free, so 100% can be used to support both mission and ministry.
Here is a typical letter of request to send to your IRA custodian…
Dear (Company Representative),
Federal law permits the account holder of a traditional or Roth IRA who is 70 ½ or older to make a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) directly from their IRA to a qualified public charity.
As the owner of (insert company) IRA Account #__________________, I request you make the following QCD to the following organization: $______________________ to the Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province, Inc, 1615 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202; Tax ID Number: 31-6064103.
It is my intention that the above gift be treated as a QCD and that the same be used to satisfy, in whole or in part, my Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) in the year of transfer.
This letter is sufficient authorization for you to make the QCD gift specified above. However, if you require any further documentation, please send those documents to me immediately.
Jane B. Donor
For more information about IRA “charitable rollover” gifts, contact Colleen Cushard, Co-Director of Franciscan Ministry & Mission, at 513-721-4700 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
A memory of Christmas Past
Obie and Mae Parker! They gave me a great opportunity to demonstrate Christmas hospitality at an age in my young life when I had little notion of such a thing. What was under the tree, gift-wrapped and bearing my name, was uppermost. Sure, the entire Christmas season, well, at least the first 10 days or so getting us into the new year, was filled with church celebrations, festive food, gift exchange, playing in the snow while shivering in the cold whiteness, and family visits. It was a great time to be a kid (mid to late 1950s) and absorb life experiences by the gallon.
Of all the Christmas festivities, the events of visiting relatives, traveling from house to house, and receiving guests in our home remain most vivid. For me the most touching visit came when our elderly neighbors, Obie and Mae, made their annual trek – a few steps journey next door – into our festively decorated living room to be seated, welcomed, and wished the very best of the Christmas season. Handshakes, hugs, and tender kisses were freely given and received. Obie and Mae had no children, and appeared to be in their late 70s or beyond. Well goodness, at my age of 10 or so, everyone appeared ancient, or at least nearly ancient. Obie and Mae were Father and Mrs. Time to me. They moved slowly and cautiously, bearing smiles and an inner joy and happiness that I couldn’t miss. I loved them for being our neighbors, pretty much along in their senior years. We were their family, in a way, looking out for them.
My dad would give Obie a carton of Winston cigarettes, which he enjoyed while listening to the radio. Our houses were so close we could hear Obie’s loud comments to news or his favorite White Sox during the baseball season when windows and doors were wide open, welcoming the summer breeze.
My mother so graciously and tenderly shared a little gift of an apron or some such thing with Mae. Then we proceeded to talk about how quickly the year was coming to a close, and what a good president we had in Dwight Eisenhower, or surely the ensuing year would find the White Sox beating out the Yankees for the American League pennant (happily fulfilled in 1959!). As my parents served refreshments, we kids had to stay in the room and visit with our guests. By then we had opened our presents, bringing delight to Obie and Mae, as they watched us play.
Looking back, it reminds me of Abraham’s and Sarah’s experience of the three angels who came by after a long journey and depended on nomadic hospitality for survival in the desert land. Mid-December in northwest Indiana is nowhere near desert conditions, but genuine hospitality and neighborliness are crucial to survival of another sort. In my Christmas days of long ago, Obie and Mae Parker were perhaps angels in disguise, looking for refreshment, companionship, family, and acceptance – all food for life that should grace every Christmas table.
If you have your own tale or memory of Christmas presence (and presents too, that’s just fine), take time to share it with someone. Perhaps you too, at Christmas, have unknowingly entertained angels. God has been known to come caroling with songs of joy and hope, and even to “sit a spell” in one’s living room and visit. “Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house and have supper with him, and he with me” (Rev.3:20.) Receive God’s gift of Christmas, and … expect a visit! A Blessed Christmas to you!
With a backpack full of prayers
Br. Michael Radomski shoulders his backpack, steps out into the Detroit sunshine – and stops in his tracks.
“First, we pray,” he says, then asks the Almighty for wisdom to help those in need. For the next two hours he will seek them out on streets and in parks, offer them a sandwich and encourage them to talk.
On behalf of St. Aloysius Neighborhood Services, friar Michael is channeling God’s love to the reclusive homeless, those too skittish or embarrassed to say, “I’ve lost my way.” A member of the parish’s Backpack Ministry since 2008, he is there, he says, “to be present to people” who are sad, vulnerable, alone and afraid.
Just listening doesn’t sound like much. But to those who have nothing, it means everything.
Michael’s roomy red backpack is stuffed with gloves, wool caps, t-shirts and hand warmers, all in demand on this bright but brisk afternoon. He fills a collapsible wheeled crate with bottled water and sandwiches donated by local parishes. “We try to have PB&J and some sort of meat sandwiches. If there are extras left over, we sometimes go to the library and pass them out to patrons who are homeless. Today we have homemade cookies, praise the Lord!”
The route he takes varies, “depending on the needs that present themselves. It’s not so much about giving out stuff as being available. We don’t preach to them. We’re there to pray with or for them.” In a world that is often indifferent or disdainful, “It’s a chance to affirm their dignity. They don’t often get that.”
Everyone has a story. “Many have had a difficult life,” derailed by drugs, mental illness or a dysfunctional family. “We have certain regulars we’ve gotten to know and have seen for years,” then, out of the blue, “They’re suddenly gone, off the map, and we don’t know why.”
Walking in groups of two or more, “We try not to let bad weather stop us,” Michael says of St. Al’s 25 backpackers, most of them lay volunteers who come once a week. “If it’s not nice for us, it’s not nice for the folks stuck out there, either.” The worst day ever? “Oh gosh, when the snow was up to our knees.” They actually found people waiting for them along the route. “Warming centers are great, but when we go out in the cold and snow, those we minister to have a sense that they really are loved.”
There’s a strategy to this, he says. “You approach people who are loners, less likely to go to a shelter. We try to give them the ‘once-over’” to find those truly in peril. “Our priority is those who don’t have the safety of a warm apartment to go to each night.” Since backpack supplies are limited, “We try to explain that we’re holding tight onto items for people in dire situations. It’s a tough thing to do, but it’s a necessary thing to do.”
Michael heads north on Washington Boulevard, sidetracked by an unshaven senior sitting in the median of the street. He hails the friar, introduces himself as “John” and holds out his hands. John not only needs gloves, he needs help putting them on. “I had a stroke,” he says. Michael fishes a pair of gloves from the backpack and tugs them over the man’s gnarled fingers. “We’ll keep an eye out for a pair of mittens that would be easier,” he promises John.
“Brother Michael!” he hears, and turns to spot a friend. “Carla, you doin’ all right?” he asks a smiling, white-haired woman with a walker. She turns down a sandwich, preferring to catch up on the news while a small crowd gathers around them. Soon they are engaged in a lively conversation. “We often have a good time when we go out,” Michael says. “It’s a joy to meet people like Carla who are filled with joy” despite their circumstances.
At a construction site, a guy with a street-cleaning machine wants to talk. After being paroled from prison, the man spent four years looking for work. He would like to pray and give thanks with a man of God for the positive turn his life has taken.
Michael says his habit is rarely recognized. “Most of the time people are like, ‘What are you dressed up for?’ Most of them just know we’re ‘church guys’.”
Up the street, he turns into Grand Circus Park. A dozen men are sitting around the drained fountain, hip-hop vocals blaring in the background. Faces registering anger, boredom or hopelessness, they come to life when Michael walks into view. “When we get to a certain part of a park, they come from other parts,” he says. “It’s like they have antennae.”
A short queue forms quickly. “Got any socks?” a young man asks. Michael pulls out half the contents of his backpack before announcing, “There are no socks.”
“I’m allergic to peanut butter,” says another when he’s offered a sandwich. “What about chocolate?” Michael says, offering a cookie. These guys may be hungry, but they don’t seem destitute. Scanning the park, Michael points to a bench across the way. “That man is homeless. He’s wearing a coat that folds out into a sleeping bag.”
A middle-aged man named Aaron comes forward, face contorted in pain, and says he needs to pray. A dam of despair breaks loose as Michael petitions God, with Aaron sobbing, clinging, sinking to his knees. For the next few minutes there are no answers, only questions, but it’s obvious that this desperately sad soul has found comfort and catharsis. He wipes his eyes, gets to his feet and stumbles away.
“There are a lot of them like that,” according to Michael. “It’s hard to say, ‘My time’s up. Gotta go.’ You just can’t do that.”
Alone and confused
A bearded man with a finger wrapped in bandages wanders by looking so dazed that Michael is concerned. “You got a place to stay tonight?” he calls. “On the road,” the man says in heavily accented English. An immigrant from Nepal, he is alone in America.
“What do you believe in your God?” he suddenly asks Michael. “God loves you and me” is the friar’s response. “Some say Allah, some say God the Father; it’s all one God.”
For the next half-hour while the man sits quietly on a curb, staring blankly with his upturned hands on his knees, Michael is on his cell phone, trying to find lodging. Coming up empty, he scribbles a list of names, places and phone numbers.
“I wish there were more I could do for you,” he says, handing them over. “I will hold you in my heart and pray throughout the night. God will look out for you. Place it all in God’s hands.”
Armed with a bag of hand warmers, mittens, sandwiches, and directions to a shelter, the man sets off across the park. “I feel so unable to help in any way,” Michael says. “It aches to not know what happens to them. That’s the only part of this ministry I don’t like.”
Some days, there are rays of hope. “Periodically we meet somebody who is back, better, who has a house and has found work. One such person is Angelique, a young, timid woman who was ever gracious and appreciative” of the help she received. “She kind of disappeared for a while. Then one day we were out and someone called, ‘Hey guys! Hey, St. Aloysius!’ It was Angelique,” greeting them with a smile and a hug. “She got a home, lined up a job and got her life back on track. It was wonderful to see.”
With his load lightened, Michael heads for St. Aloysius and his other duties. He will be back here next week, praying for more happy endings.
This story first appeared in the SJB News Notes and Franciscan.org
Patricia found a ‘miraculous friend’ in St. Anthony
As a convert, I had never heard of St. Anthony until middle age. However, I soon found a ‘miraculous friend’ in him. He has found many misplaced and lost things for me and always left me feeling uplifted to boot.
Ten months ago I lost my wallet just before Christmas with virtually my whole life in it including my driver’s license, money and all my plastics. I reported it to the police and after a few weeks and begging St. Anthony to help out, I proceeded to replace all that was in there. I said to my family that this must be a tough one even for St. Anthony.
Ten months later there was a knock at the door and 2 young lady chemist assistants asked if I had lost a wallet and asked my name. Apparently I had left it in a chemist shop that I seldom visit. When it was found, it had been placed ‘temporarily’ in their lost property bin and forgotten about. It was soon covered over with various other things being flung in hastily because of the Christmas rush.
It was only when it became full that they unearthed it and found that only my address was on things and no phone number. They turned up on my doorstep nearly a year later, with wallet in hand. Nothing had been changed. Everything including the cash was still in there untouched. I thanked the girls and St. Anthony out loud and insisted they take a reward for themselves for their trouble. I was overjoyed to have something so personal back in my life.
Maybe I was meant to change all those cards for some reason. Who knows? St. Anthony does pick his time occasionally, but if it’s findable, he is like a ‘spiritual bloodhound’ on the job and seems to be inexhaustible. He is so very loving. I tell one and all about him.
Thank you, adorable St. Anthony.
Patricia in Australia
We’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: email@example.com or Call Colleen Cushard at: 513-721-4700. Share your prayers with us and our online community at our Prayer Page. You can donate to St. Anthony Bread or any of our ministries at our Donation Page.