A legacy gift story from Fr. Mark Mertes, former pastor at Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Kansas

Throughout my whole life, whenever I met someone named Rose, I thought they must be a special person. Roses are so special in our culture that they are seeded, bred, grown and named after people. One such person is Pope Saint John Paul II who has a Hybrid Tea Rose named for him.

Fr. Mertes, Pastor of St. Patrick’s parish in Kansas City, Kansas told me a story of a parishioner named Rose. Rose was a parishioner long before and during the time he was pastor at Christ the King. In 2015, Rose left a surprise parish legacy gift. She is the “unnamed Rose” because her last name is anonymous, and Father explained that many parishioners could not identify Rose, personally. Father explains that when he shared the story about the legacy gift left to the parish from Rose’s estate, he expressed to them “that Rose had met Christ through them.” It was because of them that she left her generous gift to the parish.

We can only speculate what she thought and felt during her parish life over the years. We can’t know the parishioners that may have touched her. Perhaps it was an evangelical spirit that the Gospel continues to be spread at Christ the King for many generations to come. We know she trusted the Pastor to make right decisions with the gift. It was “unrestricted.”

What we can be sure of, is that Rose was a beautiful soul, docile to the Holy Spirit. It isn’t often one thinks about a legacy gift to their parish. But, Rose was stirred to do so and she responded.

Rose at first had left a 10% bequest of her estate to Christ the King. But, in 2014 she amended her Will and Christ the King became a 33% beneficiary of her estate. This surprise legacy gift came to $374,000. Fr. Mertes, along with the Finance Council, used $274,000 for a new parking lot and provided maintenance to the exterior brick work. The remaining $100,000 was put in savings. Since roses grow on the outside of buildings it was appropriate that Rose’s legacy provided beauty to the exterior of Christ the King.

We always want a rose to last as long as possible. Now, this unnamed Rose will be remembered longer than she would have by many of her parish family because of her gift to repair Christ the King church. More importantly, through our Catholic faith, we know that Rose has a legacy that is lasting forever as she lives now with her heavenly King.

Written by Terri M. Lynn, M.T.S., Director of Planned Giving, Office of Stewardship and Development. tlynn@archkck.org. February 15, 2021.