Connection to Glenmary Inspires Annual Giving and Annuity

Posted: 10/18/2013

Grace HeisingGrace Effler Heising, 81, first met and grew to admire Glenmarians as a high school senior in Greater Cincinnati in 1950. Just six years later, as a young Glenmary employee, she also became a donor—the start of a long history of generous support by her and her husband that spans almost six decades and includes an annuity with Glenmary.

As she grew up, Grace's understanding of missionaries and their work came largely from the example of an older sibling and from her parents and Catholic school teachers. "My brother Herbert," she says, "was a devoted Franciscan priest who worked with the Navajos and Spanish-speaking people in the Southwest for almost his entire adult life."

Glenmarians sometimes celebrated Mass, preached and administered sacraments at St. Gabriel Church, where Grace was a student at the parish high school. She came to know, like and respect the priests because "they were really fine men who were very dedicated to their home mission ministry."

After graduation, she worked for General Electric (GE). But in 1955, she followed her heart and took an office job in public relations at Glenmary—readily accepting a 70-percent pay decrease just to be part of their missionary effort.

She also began making regular donations in 1956 "as another way to affirm and help Glenmary." One day she discovered a happy coincidence in the office files: a former GE coworker and friend (and unbeknownst to her, her future husband), Charles Heising, was a faithful Glenmary donor, too.

In 1959, her desire to serve led her to join the newly formed secular group called Glenmary Lay Missioners. She went through formation while continuing her office work, and traveled to mission areas such as Texana, N.C., where she helped coordinate a Vacation Bible School.

However, Grace didn't complete formation. In the early 1960s she left Glenmary to attend college. And in 1965, she and Charles were married. The couple lived in the Philadelphia area—where they raised their son and daughter—for more than 40 years.

"It was always important to us to keep supporting Glenmary," she says. "The Glenmarians at St. Gabriel had made a lasting impression on Charles, too, when he was a parishioner there. We liked how they lived out the Gospel and served people in need in our own country."

She and Charles kept up with Glenmary primarily by reading the society's publications. In 2007, though, they attended the annual President's Gathering for donors held in Cincinnati. "It was very nice to reestablish that connection," she says. When Charles passed away in 2009, two Glenmarians concelebrated a memorial Mass.

As Grace and Charles completed their estate planning, they agreed to make a planned gift to Glenmary. "So I established an annuity with them for the future and as my financial situation allows, I can also keep making an annual gift," she says. In addition, she has attended other donor gatherings in Cincinnati and Florida.

During her life, Grace has found many other ways to serve. For instance, she coordinated her Philadelphia-area parish's casserole program for the homeless. She has served as a lector and eucharistic minister for that parish and her current parish in Florida. And she works twice a week in a Miami-diocese outreach ministry for a sister diocese in Haiti.

"I also pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day. Glenmarians introduced me to it in the 1950s!" she says.

"I still feel humbled to be part of Glenmary's ministry. I hope our children will continue our tradition of supporting Glenmary and other charitable causes."

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 Planning Ahead newsletter.