Faith and a desire to generously share their blessings were commonalities shared by two South Dakota couples that probably never met, at least in this life. Harold and Monica Heitgen were long-time members of St. Mary, Salem. Monica passed away in 2014, joining Harold who had died several years ago. Their legacy of generosity will live on through the endowments they established for ministries they wanted to support from their estate and charitable trust. Similarly, Clarence Justice died in October of 2014, almost a year to the day after his wife Phyllis passed away. These stalwarts of Milbank left a deep impression not only at their parish and school but St. Lawrence but for other diocesan ministries including seminarian education. St. Lawrence pastor, Father Gary DeRouchey said, “The Justices were a wonderful example of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony – a team in faith and life. Phyllis was Clarence’s sweetheart.”
“They did not believe they were entitled to anything, but they went great lengths to be stewards of the many gifts God had given them. We see their generosity in the building of the new addition to the county museum, the new hospital and the addition to St. William’s (nursing home). Throughout their lives, they supported the different activities of St. Lawrence. They knew the importance of educating our children.” The Heitgen’s were a faithful couple who were humble about what they were able to share. “They were devout Catholics, faithful to daily Mass and devotions,” said their pastor, Fr. Martin Lawrence, at St. Mary, Salem. “They were generous but practical: they installed the central air conditioning and heating in our church, paved the roads in our cemetery, paved our church basement as part of the 2008 restoration, all practical projects.
It will be a blessing for years to come to assist us in ministry, both in the parish and in our parish school, which was very dear to the Heitgen’s,” Fr. Lawrence said. “It was truly a privilege to come to know them and help them, “said Bette Theobald from the Catholic Community Foundation, who worked with both couples. “It is truly a legacy of faith that will last because we were able to find the right charitable tools to achieve the goals unique to each, but which now will benefit the parish, school and a host of broader ministries long into the future,” she said.