Family continues legacy of supporting Glenmary

Posted: 7/18/2017

Kathleen Malane of Fairfield, Conn., wanted to show her grandchildren that when they are generous to God, he is generous to them, and she thought their first Communion was the perfect time to teach that lesson.

It all began with her oldest grandchild. When he made his first Communion, she made him a deal. She would make a donation to a local charity of his choice in theamount of his choice. Then, she gave him a matching amount as a gift.

The only problem was her grandson was very generous.

“Letting them choose can get dangerous,” Kathleen said.

It set a precedent. For each following grandchild, she would make a donation in their honor to the charity of their choice. It was a way to give thanks to God for allowing them to make their first Communion and a gift to those in need as well as to her grandchild. The children would participate by writing a letter to the charity to accompany the gift.

This year, Kathleen had four grandchildren making their first Communion. She limited their options to a list of charities that Kathleen and her husband already support. Her grandson, Collin Lally, chose Glenmary.

“I want to donate money to your organization for my First Communion and to help poor communities,” Collin wrote to Glenmary in a letter accompanying his gift.

Collin was not aware of Glenmary before his grandmother told him about it, but he liked its mission.

“I want to help poor communities, because they have many needs,” Collin said. “If you donate to charity, they can help poor communities get what they need. I am glad (my grandmother) told me about charities, because giving back is an important lesson to learn. If you don’t learn to be generous now, life could be very miserable for you.”

Kathleen is continuing the legacy of generosity that her parents started. She grew up as one of eight children. While her family never struggled, they were not wealthy, yet her parents always gave to charity.

From a young age, they instilled the value of giving back in their children. Her mother began giving to St. Anthony’s Guild in New York City in the 1930s, and Kathleen continued to give in her memory after her mother passed away.

“When she died, I continued to give to continue the legacy she started,” Kathleen said. “I guess that is what I am trying to do with my grandchildren. It is like a drop in a pond. (Your impact) spreads. I wanted to honor their first holy Communion and let them know that these charities exist.”

Kathleen first connected with Glenmary in college. She was attending Southern Connecticut State College in New Haven, Conn., and a Glenmary priest visited the college to talk about Glenmary’s work.

“Living in New England, I was amazed that people did not have access to the sacraments or to Mass,” Kathleen said. She also liked Glenmary’s focus on ecumenical work and enjoyed seeing the strides it made in the South over the years, particularly returning many parishes to the local dioceses.

While Kathleen was in school, Glenmary had a home, The Glenmary House, in Fairfield, Conn. The Glenmary House was a house of study from 1957 to 1968, offering Latin lessons for students who needed it.

It also introduced people in the Northeast to Glenmary. Glenmarians ran vocational and fundraising activities from the house, allowing them to reach prospective candidates and donors in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. The house closed in the 1980s.

Kathleen began giving $1 a month to Glenmary, and Glenmary sent her a bank book where she could track how much she had given and see how much the total had grown. She recorded the monthly donations so she could see the impact her gift had on the missions.

When she got a job, she raised her monthly contribution to $5. Eventually, she switched from a monthly donation to an annual donation.

Rachel Lally, Collin’s mother and Kathleen’s daughter, said the tradition of giving was a wonderful one to pass on, especially by tying it to the sacraments.

“It is a nice opportunity to bond over something that is so important to my mom,” Rachel said. “She has always been generous. My whole life, she has been a great supporter of charities in general, and Catholic charities in particular. It was important to her to share that message of reaching out to others with the kids.”

Collin, who loves geology, science and drawing, was pleased overall with the experience. He said it made the day even more special, which was hard, because he was anxious to finally receive the Eucharist.

“It was the first time I was receiving Christ, and it was very exciting,” Collin said.

This story first appeared in the July 2017 Boost-A-Month Club newsletter.