Howie and Nancy Lemcke 2016

Large or Small, Every Contribution Matters

Howard and Nancy Lemcke moved to Utah from the Chicago area in 1979 and raised three children in Utah; each attending Catholic schools. In 1994 their youngest child, Sara, accepted an invitation to join the Cathedral’s training choir and two years later enrolled in the startup Madeleine Choir School’s Sixth Grade. The years passed and as the children and the Madeleine Choir School grew and matured, the Lemckes remained committed and involved with the school: concerts, rehearsals, Masses, Monsignor Mannion’s homilies, performance tours, more rehearsals, dinner events and auctions. Howie served on the Madeleine Choir School Board, met and formed a bond with the remarkable Irene Sweeney and came to realize, while on a Madeleine Choir School pilgrimage to Rome, “that he’d always been Catholic, he just never knew it.” In 1998 Monsignor Mannion baptized Howie, who received his First Communion in the Cathedral of the Madeleine at age fifty-four.

Later, during retirement and after the heart breaking honor of helping to bear Irene’s casket into and from the Cathedral, the Lemckes approached another of Irene’s pals, Jennifer Carroll of the Catholic Foundation of Utah, about what options might be available to honor Irene and help the Madeleine Choir School. As people in a comfortable financial circumstance, but hardly wealthy, were there potential paths within the Foundation available to folks of more modest means? The answer was, “Yes!”

By putting together a donation in the low thousands, adding more funds as years went by and ultimately contributing the proceeds from an existing insurance policy, Howie and Nancy Lemcke created and established the Irene C. Sweeney Memorial Endowment within the Catholic Foundation of Utah. The Foundation offers great latitude for donors in choosing the purpose of their endowment and how a gift is distributed; by either giving a yearly distribution in perpetuity forever and always to the beneficiary such as the Choir School or allowing the entire gift to be withdrawn by the beneficiary when needed for the purpose the donor chose. The Foundation offers endowment options; the donors make the decisions. Managing a large portfolio, accounted to the unit endowments, the Foundation’s healthy rate of return on sensible investments led Howie and Nancy to choose a permanently restricted endowment that gives a distribution of earnings each year. Rather than restrictive language, the language allowed for donor discretion, “The annual distribution is for the unrestricted use of the Madeleine Choir School’s Administration. However, it is the donors’ hope that this would be for scholarship or tour support for students from traditionally Catholic communities who might not otherwise afford either Catholic education or an opportunity to tour with the school’s or Cathedral’s choirs.”

The Lemckes hope that people in their similar situation see the real opportunity to employ the Foundation as a professionally managed vehicle to provide a legacy of support for even small things close to their hearts. These could range from parish landscaping, school desks, choir robes to vocational support. Such endowments could be sponsored by individuals, families, classmates, parishioners or neighborhoods. Endowments can even be named after a beloved teacher, priest, religious or friend. Howie shares that one reason he and Nancy chose Irene’s name for the endowment was that it would attract more donors than their name. Howie would like to have fewer of his fellow Catholics view “Foundation” as a word that really doesn’t fit into their vocabulary.

Many cheers to Howie and Nancy for their generosity, leadership, sharing of knowledge, kindness and friendship!

The world needs more people with the joy you share and show.

Every person is welcome to contribute any amount, no matter how small or large, into an already existing endowment.

Please join Howie and Nancy Lemcke by donating any amount you wish to the Irene C. Sweeney Memorial Endowment benefiting the Madeleine Choir School.