Seeing Missioner in Action Inspired Donor's Support, Planned Gifts

Posted: 8/3/2011

Helen Lakatos with Father Dan DorseyHelen Lakatos, 86, of Pompano Beach, Fla., decided in 2010 to establish a charitable gift annuity with Glenmary Home Missioners and, in 2011, to remember Glenmary in her will. But her support of Glenmary had begun about 25 years before, when she personally experienced what a difference a Glenmary missioner can make in the lives of the people he serves.

Ironically, the first time Helen learned about Glenmary's home missions was in a foreign country: She traveled to Peru several times during the 1960s to visit a woman religious whose order was serving the poor. Helen was also providing some financial assistance for the order's work. During one visit, Helen met Marie Knowles, a papal volunteer and nurse who told her all about Glenmary and explained why she had decided to be a longtime supporter.

In the 1980s, Helen began visiting another friend in Franklin, N.C., each summer. She soon discovered that the local Catholic church was actually a Glenmary mission.

"Father Mike Langell was the pastor," she says, "and he had a positive impact on a lot of people in the community, both Catholics and non-Catholics. He even had a radio program, which I listened to like many others. He was always very plain and simple in his message about faith, and he really inspired people throughout the area, including me."

She made the connection between the Glenmary stories Marie Knowles had told her and the good work she saw Father Mike and Glenmary doing. "That's when I decided to start making donations," she says.

Helen grew up Catholic in Naugatuck, Conn., and remembers her mother as a role model. She taught Helen and her brother and sister by example.

"My father died young and my mother worked about 15 hours a day running our grocery store," says Helen. "She gave people a break when they didn't have enough money to pay right away. She helped everybody and never talked about it. She lived her Catholic religion."

Helen worked her entire life, first at the grocery store, then later as a meat cutter and packer. After she moved to Florida with her mother in the 1950s, Helen was a department store employee for many years before returning to school to become a nurse's aide. This final job was a good fit for her "because I like people and I've always tried to help others who needed it."

She now lives in a Catholic retirement community. And she says that as she's grown older, prayer has played an increasingly important part in her life.

In 2010, Helen had been thinking and praying about establishing a charitable annuity with a religious group. She knew an annuity could help the organization and also provide her with a regular income. She had read Glenmary's publications with great interest since she began donating.

"It really helped that I already had a connection with Glenmary," Helen says. "I think it was just God's will that I ended up getting an annuity with them."

When Susan Lambert, Glenmary's planned giving officer, invited Helen to attend a donor gathering earlier this year in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Helen accepted the invitation but then went a step further.

"It was an effort for me to get there, and I didn't want it to go to waste," she says. "So I invited some of my friends to go, too. They liked what Father Dan (Dorsey, then Glenmary president) had to say and told me later that they got something out of it. I'm hoping the Holy Spirit will move them to make gifts to Glenmary too."

She adds that the get-together also gave her a deeper understanding of Glenmary. "I really like what they're doing. I'm more sure than ever that I made the right decision in supporting Glenmary."

This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2011 Planning Ahead newsletter.