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By Planning Gifts, Donor Protects Wishes in Estate

By Planning Gifts, Donor Protects Wishes in Estate
Father Douglas G. Comstock

For Father Douglas G. Comstock, the decision to create a gift annuity was simple.

"You have never seen a U-Haul attached to a casket, have you?" Father Comstock said.

Though he has acquired many beloved possessions over the years through his travels and his work as an educator and parish priest, he knows that he cannot take his treasures with him to the afterlife, so he began planning for their dispersal.

"I have various (organizations) in my will that I know I want to support," said Father Comstock, now the pastor of the Catholic Community of Alexandria, which includes St. Cyril of Alexandria Church in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., and St. Francis Xavier Church in Redwood, N.Y. "I know that if I eventually go into a (nursing) home, all of the money will go quickly. Creating an annuity is a way to ensure that the money benefits the people I want it to."

Father Comstock is one of many Glenmary Home Missioners donors who has chosen to establish a charitable gift annuity. With a charitable gift annuity, a donor transfers a gift of cash or securities to Glenmary. In return, the donor receives a fixed payment for life, based on the donor's age and amount of gift. The donor also receives a charitable income tax deduction, and a portion of the annuity income is tax-free.

"An annuity gives you income now while providing for your wishes for the future," Father Comstock said. "It lets you leave now what you might have given to an organization later on. With so many people living longer and so many extensive illnesses depleting their reserves, a planned gift like an annuity lets you make a gift and receive something back."

Planning his gifts just made sense to Father Comstock. As a pastor, he has helped many parishioners cope with the long-term illnesses and deaths of family members. He knew that to protect his wishes, he needed to begin planning his future.

But, giving has always come naturally for the priest, who will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination this year. As a young boy, his mother took in elderly community members. She taught him the importance of generosity and supporting the community.

That spilled over to his professional life. He cared for the needs of his parishioners, as well as tended to the formation of seminarians as an educator at Wadhams Hall College in Ogdensburg, N.Y.

In the 1970s, Father Comstock taught religious studies, spiritual formation and Latin at Wadhams. He helped seminarians develop a global awareness, a concern for others and a passion for social justice, encouraging them to see a world beyond themselves and their immediate communities.

While at Wadhams, Father Comstock first came in contact with Glenmary. Living far away from most of Glenmary's missions, he first learned about Glenmary through The Farm, the group volunteer site in Vanceburg, Ky. Many of his students spent time working at The Farm, and one student joined Glenmary in formation.

Father Comstock then invited Glenmary priests, including current Glenmary president Father Chet Artysiewicz, to retreats in Ogdensburg to help seminarians discern their vocations.

Later, when Father Comstock was spiritual formation director and vice rector at the American College of the Louvain, in Leuven, Belgium, he met former Glenmary president Father Dan Dorsey, who was studying at Rome and would stop over in Leuven on his way home.

While Father Comstock formed a friendship with many Glenmarians, it was the organization's mission that spoke to him. He liked the idea that Glenmary priests, brothers and coworkers were spreading God's message in No Priest Land, USA, where there is little to no Catholic representation.

"They share the good news about Jesus and help people in the mission areas grow in their relationship with Jesus," Father Comstock said. "They are sharing what has been given to us so freely already, which is a worthwhile endeavor to support and promote."

Though Father Comstock created the charitable annuity in 2006, he has supported Glenmary for many years, promoting Glenmary through the diocesan mission cooperative. He allows Glenmarians to visit and speak about their mission work. It educates a wider audience about Glenmary's work and attracts more donors to the organization.

Father Comstock will continue to promote Glenmary as well as earn income from the annuity throughout his lifetime, but for now, he is not concerned about his finances. On a Tuesday morning in January, all he cares about is the pending snowfall. As a northern New Yorker, he is eagerly awaiting the predicted 1 to 3 inches. Like all northerners, he is prepared for the cold and potential bad weather.

Then again, he is a planner.