January 28, 2022

Investing with Faith / Jim Maslar

Retired priest’s charitable gift to the Church happened ‘by accident’

Jim MaslarFather John Geis, a retired priest ordained in 1964, spends most of his time praying and hearing confessions.

At 86, he jokes, “That’s about it now.”

But that’s not exactly true because even though his years of active ministry are behind him, Father John is still actively supporting the mission of the Church here in central and southern Indiana through a charitable gift annuity he began decades ago.

Ironically, Father John observes, he found out about charitable gift annuities by accident—literally.

When he was a young priest, he injured himself in three separate incidents and suffered two broken arms and a broken leg. “I’m on my last leg,” he notes with a chuckle. But the accidents made Father John realize that he needed to save money so that he’d be able to take care of himself.

In those years, priests had to do a lot more on their own and received less financial support from the archdiocese than they do now. To him, Catholic charitable gift annuities offered a way for him to give to the Church out of his surplus, but also receive a benefit when he would need it most.

That’s what’s unique about a charitable gift annuity: it provides lifetime income that benefits both the donor and the charity. A donor makes a one-time gift of cash, securities or other appreciated assets to a chosen charity and names up to two annuitants (those who will receive the income—typically, the donor and/or a loved one).

In return for the gift, the charity agrees to make fixed payments quarterly, semiannually or annually to the annuitants for life. The amount of the payment is determined by the annuitant’s age when the annuity is set up and the amount of the gift. The older the annuitant, the higher the rate. Payments are fixed, but also guaranteed because they are backed by the Catholic Community Foundation’s entire assets and not just the donor’s gift. The charity receives the balance of the invested funds upon the annuitant’s death.

The joy of both giving and receiving lies at the heart of our Catholic faith. Father John knows that his financial gift is going somewhere it’s needed and doing good. “I believe that everything belongs to God. We acquire things to use and to share. We don’t live in this world alone,” he notes. “That’s what’s important about giving to others. Everything comes from God and not from us—even the air we breathe. We take of it, and we give back.”

Giving isn’t just for the rich. In fact, Father John recalls the inspiration he’s drawn during 58 years of priestly ministry from the generosity of those who had little. “Some people have some really tough times. I’ve seen people who are very poor still contribute something. They trusted God to open his life to them in ways that almost embarrassed me. Seeing their sacrifices inspired me. If I’m a priest, I thought, I need to do something for others, too.”

For Father John, a charitable gift annuity was an opportunity to live according to God’s will and be considerate of others. “We can’t live alone. It’s a gift to be open to others. Planned giving is a practical way to be open to the needs of others.”

Of course, giving flows from gratitude. As Father John observes, “We cannot outdo God. The generosity of God is in everything that exists. I see this as I get older. Everything is for our good. We have to think of God every day. The first waking moment in the morning, give thanks for life. God has been generous with me, and I want to be as generous as I can.”

(Jim Maslar is a Catholic philanthropic advisor for the archdiocese’s Catholic Community Foundation [CCF]. Tax or legal information provided herein is not intended as tax or legal advice. Always consult with your legal, tax or financial advisors before implementing any gift plan. To learn more about charitable gift annuities that support the mission of Christ in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, e-mail ccf@archindy.org., or call 317-236-1482.)

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