Real Estate Gift Supports New Chapel at LLUH

Richard and Patti CatalanoIt was never a question if the Catalanos would leave a legacy at Loma Linda University Health, but rather how they would choose to leave one.

Richard Catalano, M.D., a professor of surgery and a trauma general surgeon at Loma Linda University Health, trains new physicians to respond and treat the most serious and traumatic emergency incidents.

Patti Catalano, daughter of Louis L. Smith, M.D.—who performed the first kidney transplant at LLUH over 50 years ago—has worked alongside many physicians as a nurse in the operating room. She presently works with the cardiothoracic team, mending hearts and training staff that provides health care worldwide.

Dr. and Mrs. Catalano are past presidents of the Loma Linda University Health Councilors. The Councilors group was created by the Loma Linda University Board of Trustees in 1961 under the inspiration of Jerry Pettis. This group serves as ambassadors to alumni, patients, the community and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additionally, the Councilors provide moral and financial support and council to executive leadership at Loma Linda University Health.

With personal histories deeply rooted in the mission of Loma Linda University, the Catalanos were part of the executive committee that was instrumental in choosing how the Councilors could support Vision 2020—The Campaign for a Whole Tomorrow.

"Of the project options given to us, the new hospital chapel stood out as truly representing our emphasis on the healing ministry of Jesus," says Richard.

The chapel will be the heart of the new lobby, inviting passersby to come and feel the presence of Christ in a physical space accessible to any who wish to enhance the healing of self or family.

The Councilors voted to raise the $10 million for this gift.

"At first it seemed daunting, but with the guidance of the philanthropy team, we realized we needed to step out in faith and be creative in our giving to reach our goal," Richard says. "The team explained the many different giving options, most of which didn't involve cash in hand."

When a gift is part of overall financial or estate planning, donors help ensure that Loma Linda University Health will be here to carry out the mission for many years to come. Todd Mekelburg, director of Planned Giving at Loma Linda University Health, worked with the Catalanos to structure a gift of real estate—a gift allowing donors to take advantage of income-tax benefits.

"Todd explained that by donating a rental property we wanted to sell, we would receive an income tax deduction approaching our after-tax profit from the sale of the property," Patti says. "The benefit to us is not much different, but the benefit to the University is a huge blessing. At the end of the day, to have given to something bigger than ourselves means a lot. We have seen many people give generously to our schools and churches and it inspired us to share our blessings and give back."

While both Richard and Patti spend each day using their God-given talents to heal and serve, they wanted to make sure there was always a place that patients and staff at LLUH could go and spend time with God. The 60-seat chapel will be prominently positioned in the entry galleria and will provide a place of respite for people at a critical moment in their lives. The sacred space will serve as an on-going reminder of Loma Linda University Health's unique foundation in faith and whole-person care.

If you would like to make a gift to LLUH like the Catalanos did, please contact Todd Mekelburg at 909-558-4553 or

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