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 | Sister Mary Tracy, SNJM

LaShaw Family Endowment funds seminarian education

The LaShaw Family, a large, multi-generational presence in the Catholic farming community near Rockford, represents the best of humanity. Toiling in the fields for God, for one another and for those in need, their work stretches back into the 19th century and continues faithfully to this day.

One LaShaw family member is a parishioner at St. Mary Presentation Parish in Deer Park. She attends many daily Masses and Sunday Mass. Father Tom Connolly, pastor, is passionate about leading his congregation in praying for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The LaShaw relative with whom I met told me, “Father Connolly’s prayer intentions for vocations are so inspiring; I have been influenced deeply by the vocation prayer experience at our Masses.” The parish has a “vocation box” that contains a crucifix. A family may sign this box out for a week to take home and use as a prayer guide. She went on to explain that her experience with Father Connolly and praying for vocations is really what motivated her to establish the endowment for seminarian education.

The LaShaw Family Endowment will support our seminarians in their academic and theological pursuits for decades — forever! The LaShaw name will be permanently inscribed in the Catholic Foundation chronicles. Only the interest on the endowment will be distributed. The actual LaShaw Endowment is protected in perpetuity: a lasting gift.

Characteristics of a founding endowment donor

Endowment has become an increasingly attractive way to honor or memorialize someone while eventually generating a predictable level of funding. The founding donor — the one who establishes the initial endowment — seems to possess a few attributes that hold true from person-to-person. This is based on my informal assessment following years of endowment-related conversations resulting in the establishment of hundreds of endowment funds.

The ability to think long-term regardless of how dire the current situation may be.

A vision of what could be that is generally better than what is — and a plan for how that vision would play out through an endowment.

A desire to honor someone who has made an impact, influenced or shown the way; or to memorialize a person in this way.

Willing to put vision into action: creating an endowment where there has been none.

Confident that others will contribute to endowment being started.


If you would like to have an exploratory conversation about endowment, please contact Sister Mary at 509.385.7697 or