There is a poem that I came across that is a little depressing to me. It is called “The Indispensable Man.” Part of the poem reads this way:

“Take a bucket and fill it with water,

Put your hand in it up to the wrist,

Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining,

Is a measure of how much you’ll be missed.”

I personally believe this is a very cynical and pessimistic view of our time in this world. I would like to believe that the time we spend in this world has a greater impact on the lives of those we touch. I also believe that the “ripple effect” of how we impact the lives of others goes on well beyond our brief time in this life.

In other words, we all have the opportunity to leave a legacy behind when we exit this world. Think of some of the people you have known and how they have impacted you and those you love and care about. I’ll bet you can attest to the lasting effect their life has had on you and others.

I once ran into a young man, his wife and children in the hardware store. He said I probably didn’t remember him, but I had spent some time talking to him within my first year as a priest. He was struggling with his Catholic faith at the time, and whatever I said to him at the time had an impact. He returned to his faith, the woman he would later marry became a Catholic through his witness, and now they were raising children in the faith. What will be the “ripple effect” through subsequent generations? He was leaving a legacy of faith based on an encounter with a young inexperienced priest.

Aside from the personal interactions and service we give to others that can have a lasting effect, there is another way we can leave a “legacy of faith” for future generations. That is through our planned giving. Whether it is our estate, a trust or other means, we have the opportunity to help future generations out of the material blessings we have received in this life.

There are many worthy causes that we can remember in our estate planning, but what I have observed over the years is that Catholics do not always think of the Church when it comes time to plan their legacy. I don’t know exactly why this is. Perhaps some think that the Church has plenty of financial resources to take care of herself and her future. This is seriously not the case.

As we look to the future, I am concerned that the Church in western Oregon may not have all the necessary financial resources to carry on the mission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ. The generation that has truly saved and grown an estate to leave behind is going to pass on to their eternal reward, and many of the younger generation do not have the same resources to leave as a legacy.

There are so many things I would like to see happen in our local Church in this archdiocese in terms of ministry, evangelization and outreach, but I do not have the financial resources to make these things happen. We are currently at 85 percent of our goal for the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal (ACA), and that puts a strain on our budget.

To plan to leave a major gift to the Church would be a great way to say thank you to God for all the blessing he has bestowed on you in this life, and for the nurturing of your faith through the pastoral and sacramental life of the Church. This legacy for the Church could be to your parish, to the archdiocesan ministries, to our Catholic schools, in support of our seminarians and senior priests, and in any number of other ways that you can help bring others to the love of Christ for generations to come.

Please prayerfully consider how you can help secure the future mission of the Church through planned giving. Of all the worthy causes that one could contribute to, which is more important than leading others to Christ and ultimately to our eternal destiny in heaven?

I have made my own planned giving for when I leave this world. My estate will not be large, but every penny remaining at my passing from this world will go to the Church and various ministries directly connected to the Church’s mission. I hope you will join me.

When you pull your hand out of that bucket of water, know that your impact, love and care for the Church will never be forgotten.