John & Pat Miller
Story originally written for the 2019 Catholic Foundation Annual Report
The University of Nebraska Lincoln Newman Center has a special place in the heart of John and Pat Miller. The couple met at the Newman Center while in college, which played a significant part in John’s conversion to Catholicism. Now, the Millers have found a way to give back — in a substantial way — to the place that gave so much to them, through a Charitable Life Estate gift of farmland. Read More...
The University of Nebraska Lincoln Newman Center has a special place in the heart of John and Pat Miller. The couple met at the Newman Center while in college, which played a significant part in John’s conversion to Catholicism. Now, the Millers have found a way to give back — in a substantial way — to the place that gave so much to them, through a Charitable Life Estate gift of farmland. This is the story of how their gift of a Charitable Life Estate is currently helping them financially, and how it
will benefit future generations of
What drove you to set these philanthropic giving goals, and to choose a Charitable
John Miller (JM): We have felt that we have been truly blessed, and we understand from scripture just how important it is for us to be generous with our blessings. I learned of the different options for giving through an estate planner who was working with FOCUS. He presented several scenarios about how you can give now and still retain income. He just explained to me that you don’t have to wait until you’re dead to help something that you believe in. So that kind of planted the seed. That was six or eight years ago. I’ve also always been friends with Chris (Raun) and Les (Mach) of The Catholic Foundation. I’m a farmer and a businessman. Quite often farmers and businessmen have assets that don’t bear fruit until they die because their wealth is tied up in the land or in their business. We had a highly appreciated piece of farm ground and a current charitable need, and we did not want to wait until our deaths to make a donation, so the Catholic Foundation advised us about the benefits of a Charitable Life Estate.
We still need the income from this asset. With the Charitable Life Estate (CLE), I’m able to commit to the Newman Center a predetermined sum that helps them plan. It’s not an immediate benefit to them, but it’s certainly an asset in their portfolio that they can draw upon, that supports their business plan, and it’s just a good way to give while you’re alive, and still have a good income. You get a tax deduction for a percentage of the appraised value. Plus you still benefit from the asset’s appreciation – you get more deduction at the end based on the appreciation of the land. The CLE has enabled us to realize a continued flow of income from our property, plus realize a current partial charitable donation and tax deduction, with a timing and valuation that we were able to control, to some degree. In addition, the Newman Center will be helped significantly by our gift. This was truly
What motivated you to give charitably in
JM: We truly believe in the mission of the Newman Center, and thus FOCUS, and have been supporters of both for all of our adult lives. So many souls are lost during those college years, and we remember our own struggle from our college years to find “the fullness of the truth”. There are many, many important missions of love that we can all support, but we feel that we are called especially to support college evangelization.
The Newman Center has always been really special to me. I’m a convert as a result of the Newman Center. Back in 1971 – there’s kind of a long story of me coming to grips with “what is the fullness of the truth?”. We love the Newman Center, we love the mission of helping college kids finding the fullness of the truth. I really struggled with that in the past, but I really love my Catholic faith. I want other young people to be able to find the answers when they have the questions. So that led into our involvement with the building, design and fundraising of the new church (St. Thomas Aquinas).
Being at Mass at the Newman Center just fills us with hope for the future of the Church, which is tied to the future of the country in helping kids realize the fullness of the truth. What is their position in life, what’s God calling them to do? I’m 71, and when I hang out with the kids I feel like I’m 25! We’re just committed to that mission. We just really feel called to the collegiate Catholic ministry.
Pat and I have always been committed to the Truth. God is Truth. It’s important to us to search and be open to that truth and have that lead us into a personal relationship with Christ. So the Catholic faith, which I found through the Newman Center, has made us fully committed to the fact that that is the fullness of the truth. So we just feel very compelled to support the Catholic faith – in every aspect, but especially for us through the collegiate apostolate. In fact, when I converted, our biggest issue (mine and Pat) was would I go to the Seminary or would we get married? So, I think hopefully that helps explain our commitment to our faith and the Catholic Church.
What spiritual or personal benefits have
you received through your giving?
JM: The Newman Center, going to Mass there, having the full church, and having the Catholic Fraternity there which is doing great things, gives us joy. Having exposure to good college kids, who are searching for the truth and are really making a difference in their lives and in their parishes, fills us with hope. Many of the kids are connected to FOCUS or are FOCUS missionaries... there’s new generations of FOCUS kids. Plus, FOCUS is expanding their apostolate into parish leadership to help not only their missionaries and alumni, but anybody. They have a track within SEEK and SLS conferences that is designed to help any of us go back into the parish and be a leader. It is really exciting. You go to a Newman Center / FOCUS event when there’s 18,000 young people on their knees in Eucharistic adoration and it gives you goosebumps.
What was it like to work with The Catholic Foundation of Southern Nebraska?
JM: It was very easy. I was already predisposed to the idea of planned giving — maybe I’m just more aware of good estate planning. Les and Chris are extremely cordial and helpful. They are the epitome of the soft sell — they just give people the information they are looking for. There are numerous ways people can go about this, but it’s important to sit down and talk through your needs, the needs of charities, critical timing, and what the donor is going to need as they approach the end of life. Talking with The Foundation is very comfortable. I don’t ever feel pressure from them to do more.
They are just there to help.
Personally, I feel strongly about helping people give as much money as is possible to people who need the help, rather than to a government entity that will quite likely spend those funds on a program that is against my faith, and assuredly be filled with waste and graft, and thus I truly believe in doing “financial planning” that will be a responsible use of the blessings that I have received.