An endowment says 'Thank you' ... forever: The perfect gift

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With their father's milestone birthday quickly approaching, the Sullivan children grappled with what to give him.

"Our father was turning 80 and we wanted to do something special for his birthday," says Claire Esten. We considered ideas such as a big party or a family trip. But then we thought about the two things that have been important to him his entire life: Catholicism and education."

At first, Claire and her brothers, Chris and Dan Sullivan, considered making a one-time donation to their father's favorite organization. But the more they explored options, the more they liked the idea of creating an endowment. And so, they established the Dr. Thomas E. Sullivan Scholarship Fund, a fund that will annually provide tuition aid for students with demonstrated financial need who attend The Saints Academy in Beverly.

"We liked the idea of creating a legacy in our father's name," said Claire. "Rather than just making a one-time donation, the endowment will grow, and the scholarship will continue to grow." Their father agreed.

"I'll tell you, it knocked me over," Dr. Sullivan exclaimed when he learned of the endowment. "It was the perfect, the perfect gift."

Fulfilling a mission

"Growing up, I learned in Catholic schools and on Sundays that the mission of the Church is to save souls. That struck a chord in me and from then on, I wanted to save souls."

Fast forward many years. Working for decades with the Archdiocese of Boston in different capacities, Marsha Staten made strong connections.

"I saw people working so diligently and with such dedication. In every area where I worked, I saw people whose work ethic was born from their desire to serve God. These people are so smart and so humble, and they are there to fulfill the Church's mission to spread the Gospel."

When it came time to make future decisions regarding her life insurance policy and financial assets, she knew that she wanted to leave a gift for the people who had influenced her life so positively.

"I grew up in this archdiocese. From the sisters and priests, I received my education, my faith formation, and spiritual guidance. As an adult, I had traveled with the priests from St. John's Seminary on pilgrimages and I had taken courses from them. I had worked with many priests for 20 years at the archdiocese and they have influenced my life so much. I knew that St. John's is where I wanted my money to go."

The legacy of generosity

These true anecdotes represent just two ways in which an endowment can enrich the lives of others. Its power is in its continuity because it ensures lasting impact. Funds are pooled for maximum benefit and invested to achieve long-term capital growth.

"These are two wonderful examples of the various ways people can make a legacy gift during their lifetimes," says Lynne Sullivan, executive director of the Catholic Community Fund. "Anyone can make a gift that will benefit the Church and its essential ministries in Greater Boston for years to come."

Each gift has a significant impact and messages a lasting sentiment. As Marsha said when she established her Endowment Fund to support seminarians at St. John's Seminary, it's like saying 'Thank you . . . Forever!'"

For more information on the Catholic Legacy Society and/ or how to make a gift, please email Lynne Sullivan at or visit