Past presidents of the Councilors give the gift of real estate

The Councilors voted to raise $10 million dollars for a chapel in the new hospital

Richard and Patti Catalano

Richard and Patti Catalano

With personal histories deeply rooted in the mission of Loma Linda University, Executive Committee members Richard and Patti Catalano were instrumental in choosing how the Councilors could support Vision 2020 – The Campaign for a Whole Tomorrow.

Richard Catalano, MD, 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, MD — 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 healthcare worldwide.

Dr. and Mrs. Catalano are past presidents of the Loma Linda University Health Councilors, a 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.

Of the options provided to the Councilors, the idea of a chapel was the most inspiring. The new 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 anyone wishing to enhance the healing of self or family. “Of the project options given to us, the new hospital chapel stood out as truly representing our emphasis on the healing ministry of Jesus,” Richard said.

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.

The Councilors voted to raise the $10 million for this gift. “At first it seemed daunting,” Richard said. “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.”

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. So many people give generously to our schools and churches and they should know that it inspired people to share their blessings and give back, Patti said.

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. He explained that by donating a rental property that the Catalanos wanted to sell, they would receive an income tax deduction that nearly equaled their after-tax profit from the sale of the property. “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,” Patti said.

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.

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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