Diocese Offers Inspiring ‘Writing Your Legacy Letter’ Workshop

Ginny Downey checks the progress of participants during the “Writing Your Legacy Letter” workshop Jan. 10 at Holy Family Manor, Bethlehem. (Photos by John Simitz)

Staff writer

Over 40 participants joined the “Writing Your Legacy Letter” workshop at Holy Family Manor, Bethlehem to create “ethical wills,” which share love, wisdom, faith and life lessons with loved ones.

Hosted by the Diocese of Allentown on Jan. 10, the day began with a special Mass celebrated by Father Anthony Drouncheck, chaplain at Holy Family Manor.

The workshop, led by Ginny Downey and Paul Acampora from the Diocesan Office of Stewardship and Development, offered a brief history of legacy letters and ethical wills, and provided guidance and hands-on exercises so that participants could create unique, personal documents to share with heirs and loved ones.

Downey explained that Legacy Letters, which were common during the Middle Ages, have biblical origins. In the Book of Genesis, Jacob, nearing the end of his life, calls all his sons one by one and tells them what he hopes for them. In John’s Gospel, Jesus, preparing for his own death, takes time to speak with each of the 12 disciples.

“Sharing what matters most with the people we love is an important part of end-of-life planning,” said Downey, who oversees Diocesan estate and planned giving programs.

“A legacy letter bequeaths values, not valuables. Legal documents like wills, living wills and powers of attorney should definitely be part of your plan, but no-financial leave-behinds like photos, stories, recipes and recollections are much more important than money to most of us.”

“The point of the letters is to share them,” added Paul Acampora, secretary of Diocesan Secretariat for Stewardship and Development.

“They are an opportunity to reflect on the ways that Christ has been present in your life and how Christ has been present in other lives through you. As Catholics, that’s what we’re called to do.”

“Your Legacy Letter tells your survivors what you want them to know,” Downey said.

“It conveys expressions of love, blessings, personal and family stories you treasure. It articulates what you value and want to be remembered for, and what you hope your survivors learn from you or want your children and grandchildren to never forget.”

To learn more about Legacy Letters or to schedule a workshop in your parish, contact Ginny Downey, gdowney@allentowndiocese.org or 610-871-5200 ext. 2244.