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A CATHOLIC LEGACY | What will your legacy be?

In 1965, a few years after returning from service in the Korean War, Ray Piontek suddenly found himself a widower struggling to raise five small children on his own — the youngest just six weeks old. By the grace of God, however, his family’s story doesn’t end with the tragic death of Ray’s young wife.

A couple of years after his wife’s unexpected passing, Ray met Ginny. Ginny was an executive secretary at Union Electric who enjoyed her career. But after falling in love with Ray, she selflessly left her position, married Ray and, without reservation, took on the important and challenging task of helping to raise his five children. Not only did Ginny lovingly give of herself to her new family, but she also found time to live her faith by serving others through the Legion of Mary and the parish school of religion (PSR) program at her parish. She served as principal of the PSR program for many years.

After three decades of happy marriage, Ginny Piontek departed this life. Ray, a St. Rose Philippine Duchesne parishioner, wanted to memorialize in a special way his beloved Ginny, who had made his family whole again. He wanted to make permanent her Catholic legacy.

In 2015, Ray established the Virginia Celeste Piontek Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund at the Roman Catholic Foundation. Because it is endowed, the fund in Ginny’s name will offer scholarship assistance in perpetuity to students attending the Pontifical Paul VI Institute of Catechetical and Pastoral Studies. This local institute educates lay men and women, many who are PSR teachers, in the faith so they may grow in missionary discipleship. Establishing an endowment fund to benefit Paul VI students allowed Ray to further the Catholic mission about which Ginny was passionate, strengthening now and for generations Catholics who care deeply about educating others in our faith.

Ray’s story may be unique, but his experience with the foundation is not. Many Catholics have benefited from the guidance and expertise offered. Few of us want to consider our mortality, but as Catholics, we’re hopeful in the promise of eternal life. Like the Pionteks, we can leave something behind for future generations of the faithful. We can establish our own Catholic legacies, making a lasting impact on the Catholic parishes, schools and ministries we love. What will your legacy be?

Guyol is president and CEO of the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri. He and his wife are parishioners of Immacolata Parish in Richmond Heights. He can be reached at (314) 918-2891 or mark.guyol@rcfstl.org.

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