August 18, 2017

Investing with Faith / Joanna Feltz

A priest’s devotion to Mary lives on in endowment fund

Joanna FeltzIn this month’s column, I’d like to tell you a story. It’s a wonderful example of how creating a legacy through an endowment fund can impact the spiritual life of others.

The story begins with the late Father Elmer Burwinkle, a retired archdiocesan priest and a former religion teacher at Father Michael Shawe Memorial Jr./Sr. High School in Madison. A father of seven who was ordained later in life after his wife passed away, Father Burwinkle developed a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He carried this devotion over to the archdiocese of Indianapolis’ Queen and Divine Mercy Center Endowment Fund, which he created through the Catholic Community Foundation. Father Burwinkle designated that the fund would support activities in the archdiocese that honor and recognize Mary as Queen and Mother of Jesus, Divine.

In 2013, Mary Rose Carlow, a member of Prince of Peace Parish in Madison, learned of the fund. Carlow leads a Divine Mercy apostolate, a group consisting of approximately 12 members focused on practicing spiritual and corporal works of mercy, studying the Divine Mercy message revealed to St. Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s, and spreading devotion to God’s mercy.

Carlow initially applied for and received a grant from the fund for Prince of Peace Parish to purchase religious materials for the apostolate, but soon realized there was more that could be done. She applied for a series of grants to create a grotto for Divine Mercy at Prince of Peace.

The money was awarded and was used to create a place for prayer and reflection that would include a small altar, cast-iron benches and a spotlight for nighttime. After some weather delays, the project was finished and dedicated last year, which also happened to be the Holy Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis.

While Father Burwinkle could never have envisioned the grotto when he created his endowment fund, he certainly foresaw the good that the fund would do. In all, the fund allocated $8,000 to the grotto project, ensuring that people far and wide will learn about, reflect on and pray in thanksgiving of Divine Mercy for years to come.

If you’d like to learn how you can create an endowment fund that will turn your passion into a lasting legacy, my staff and I are always happy to assist you. Feel free to reach out to me by e-mail at or by phone at 1-800-382-9836, ext. 1482, or 317-236-1482.

Have a wonderful rest of the summer.

(Joanna Feltz, J.D., is director of planned giving for the archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation, and consultant to the law firm Woods, Weidenmiller, Michetti, Rudnick & Galbraith PLLC. For more information about planned giving, log on to Tax information or legal information provided herein is not intended as tax or legal advice and cannot be relied on to avoid statutory penalties. Always check with your legal, tax and financial advisors before implementing any gift plan.)

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