"My heart is full of gratitude as I reflect on the blessings that have come from working for the Catholic Community Foundation.” – Mark Conzemius, retiring President We asked Conzemius some questions about his three-decade tenure as a lay leader in the Church. How did you get involved with the CCFESD? My wife,…
Estate Planning will continue to be a specialty of the Catholic Community Foundation thanks to the hiring of Cameo Anders, the new Director of Estate Planning and In-House Counsel. "Cameo brings a deep faith and a wealth of professional experience to help individuals in their planning," said Mark Conzemius, President of the Catholic Community Foundation.…
The Eden Catholic community was truly blessed this week with many endowment distribution checks given by generous donors. Donors left a legacy behind to support Sacred Heart Parish of Eden, Eden Park Cemetery, St. Michael Cemetery and St. Joseph Cemetery in Lake City. Marne Hult, Gift Planning Officer in the Watertown Deanery, presented checks to Father Brian Simon and these gifts will go towards parish needs along with care and maintenance of the cemeteries, all in perpetuity.
Julie Becker (left), Executive Director, St. Francis House & Katie Fritz (right), Gift Planning Officer, CCFESD
Marcie Priestly (left), Development, Volunteer and Community Relations Director, Salvation Army Sioux Falls & Katie Fritz (right), Gift Planning Officer, CCFESD
Today I delivered some endowment distribution checks. What an honor and humbling experience. The Salvation Army Sioux Falls and St. Francis House are two organizations in this community that are helping people help themselves by empowering them with dignity and love. Because of incredibly generous donors creating endowments with the Catholic Community Foundation for Eastern South Dakota for the ministries that were important to them, the Salvation Army and St. Francis House will receive distributions to continue their good work forever. Each of us can leave a legacy! What will yours be?
– Katie Fritz, Gift Planning Officer, Catholic Community Foundation for Eastern South Dakota in Sioux Falls
Faith sustained Claire and Mary Bierschbach through 40 years on their farm near Webster, S.D. They trusted in God in tough years when drought dried up their pastures and storms damaged crops. They stayed strong even when a series of extraordinarily wet years caused the nearby sloughs to swell, slowly overtaking their farm land and leaving much of it unfarmable. “We can’t guarantee what’s going to happen,” said Lois Bierschbach, of the uncertainties of farm life. That reality may be one reason the couple decided to take charge of their estate planning.
They turned to the Catholic Community Foundation of Eastern South Dakota for assistance. In 1998, they crafted an estate plan that included a charitable annuity and an endowment to benefit many of their favorite causes. Proceeds from the sale of some of their land was used to create the annuity which provides a regular income throughout their lives and will fund an endowment after their death. The couple retired and moved from the farm to a home in Webster. Claire died in 2014. “The church was very important to them and still is to Mary,” said Catholic Community Foundation Gift Planning Specialist, Bette Theobald.
That devotion to the church is reflected in their choices for beneficiaries of their generosity. Their endowment will benefit their parish, Christ the King in Webster, St. Joseph Cathedral and seminarian education among other causes. The couple made adjustments to their investments through the years, adding new charities to the list of beneficiaries. Through the Bierschbachs’ generosity, they have set up six separate endowments which will benefit 13 ministries that were important to the couple, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Special Olympics, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Muscular Dystrophy Association. “Now with the creation of the endowments they remember these ministries permanently,” Theobald said.
Steve Carlson saw disaster looming, each time he wrote a check to pay a lawn care service for mowing the St. Mary’s Cemetery. As the financial officer for the cemetery account, Carlson paid the bills for the small parish burial area, located a mile north of Bryant, S.D. “It was obvious that we only had about five years – or less than that – of money to operate,” Carlson said. “We were going to run out of money.” Money for the care of the cemetery was coming primarily from funeral memorials and gifts from families whose loved ones were buried there. The parish, which includes only 45 families, also was providing some assistance from its small budget. But population declines in the rural community meant there were only 1 or 2 burials a year of late, and costs for mowing the grass and other care kept rising.
That’s when the idea of creating an endowment came about. Carlson, St. Mary’s pastor, Father Richard Baumberger, and representatives of the Catholic Community Foundation of Eastern South Dakota met to discuss options. They decided to set up the endowment. Then Carlson and his family went to work. His mother, Joyce Carlson, jumped into the project wholeheartedly. Attempting to identify relatives of the nearly 150 people buried at St. Mary’s, she poured over small town history books, scouring the internet and matching names with cemetery records. She developed a mailing list of 110 names.
In April, 2016, Steve wrote a letter explaining the need for donations, and mailed it. Then, they waited. “I didn’t know what to expect,” Carlson said. Donations slowly started coming in. The money came from individuals and families of those buried at St. Mary’s, as well as from people with more distant connections to the town or parish. Contributions came from Chicago, Arizona, Colorado and Minneapolis. To date, almost half of the people who received the letter have responded. Within months, the St. Mary’s Cemetery fund had collected more than $12,000. “Sometimes families would get together and put in one big check,” Carlson said. “I knew they were thinking about it together then.”
Money continues to arrive and the endowment has boosted the cemetery fund about a third of the way to its goal of solvency. Carlson hopes it will continue to grow. Steve Carlson, who grew up in the Bryant area, and lives with his wife, Penny, and their children on a farm north of town, sees the work more as fulfilling a basic responsibility. He said he and his family have helped take care of other rural cemeteries around the area over the years, realizing that over time, connections to families of those buried in the aging cemeteries, have declined. “You just kind of have a spot in your heart for these cemeteries,” he said.