John and Terri Schuster always say those receiving help today will become the donors of tomorrow.
They’re proof that. About 30 years ago, the couple was in great need.
Within weeks of each other, John and Terri, who married at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Northglenn, both lost their salaried jobs. Then the bills began to mount. They were served with a lawsuit for failure to pay a loan, foreclosure proceedings began on their house, medical bills piled up, and their water was shut off. Eventually, they filed bankruptcy.
“Nothing seemed to work in our favor and it was a struggle just to keep food on the table for our family,” Terri said.
In the midst of a dire financial situation, they made their first donation as a couple during a Marriage Encounter weekend retreat in Denver. The weekend experience greatly influenced them and their then-parish priest Msgr. Ken Leone stressed the importance of giving within the community. Moved to assist less fortunate couples wanting to attend the Marriage Encounter ministry, the cash-strapped couple wrote three $100 post-dated checks to cover their $150 fee and that of another couple.
“Terri and I realized that many of them probably had tougher lives than us, and we wanted to practice our renewed Catholic faith,” John shared. “So we both knew instantly when we looked at each other that we had to trust God and gave the whole $300.”
Their generosity was later returned when friends from the Marriage Encounter left an envelope with $300 in their car before Christmas. John and Terri realized how much a small gift of generosity could go such a long way.
With the help of friends, family and the community, the Schusters regained stability and rebuilt their lives.
“It would take us the better part of the next 10 years to financially recover from the hole we found ourselves in,” they shared.
They also received tuition assistance to send their five children to Nativity of Our Lord School, St. Thomas More School and Regis Jesuit High School. The couple has eight grandchildren, three of whom attend area Catholic schools. They vowed to return the generosity they once received.
“It was the generosity of others who first gave to us and their example of giving in general that allowed us to think differently about the way we viewed our financial resources, however small those resources once were,” John said. “That is the reason we want to help Catholic Charities of Denver—we first learned about the gift of giving from others and now it’s our turn to pass it on.”
Now parishioners of St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial, John and Terri spend their time and resources supporting many ministries, including Catholic education and the dignity of life from conception to natural death. They’ve testified at the state Capitol about respecting life at all ages. As a couple, they both completed the Catholic Biblical School of Denver program and served on Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) retreats at their parish. Currently, they’re mentoring engaged couples going through marriage preparation.
They’ve also been motivated to give to Catholic Charities shelter services, but especially Marisol Health (formerly known as Lighthouse Women’s Center), a medical center.
“We still support Catholic schools, but life and death issues are also very important to Terri and I and so these ministries are close to our hearts as well,” John said.
The Schusters say they trust Catholic Charities with their donations.
“Our trust and faith in God and his Holy Mother Church to do good things is why we support
Catholic Charities,” John said. “Regardless of how our resources are used, we know that if it ends up in Catholic Charities it will go to good, moral causes to help people in need, and we don’t have to worry about making a mistake with our support.”
Once the recipients of others generosity, John and Terri became the donors of today.
“We want to be there for those experiencing the same desperation we once felt,” they said. “Giving really does make a difference in people’s lives.”
“Regardless of how our resources are used, we know that if it ends up in Catholic Charities it will go to good, moral causes to help people in need ...”
John and Terri’s take on giving
What are the benefits of giving?
We believe there are many benefits to giving, including fulfill our call to live the Gospel and trust God for everything. It was very rewarding to see how a little generosity can change the lives of other people for the better. Giving also helps to build the Catholic Church and more faithful Catholics for the future.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about becoming a volunteer or donor?
Don’t over think it. Don’t be tempted by excuses. Just do it. God will take care of you regardless, and life will be more fulfilling.