Grateful Priest Gives Back

About 10 years ago, Father Dan Guenther (’77) realized he wanted to give more back to Loras College.

“I decided to set a goal to pay back everything I had been given to help pay for my education,” he said. “Not that I have a record of it but giving $100 a year wouldn’t provide that.”

In 2012, he gave $1,000 to Campus Ministry, but he did not stop there. In 2013, he established an estate provision for Loras, naming the College a beneficiary of retirement plan assets. His planned gift makes him eligible for membership in the Monsignor Foley Heritage Society.

Father Dan Guenther (77)

Those who make a commitment to the future of Loras College through an estate provision or life-income gift are welcomed as members of the Society. Currently, it has more than 350 members. This planned giving recognition society honors all alumni, parents, and friends whose gifts of future support are helping to ensure the continued excellence of Loras. Estate provisions or a life-income gift of any size qualifies donors for membership in the Society. These gifts include will provisions, revocable trust provisions, insurance gifts, designations of retirement-plan assets, charitable gift annuities, and charitable remainder unitrusts.

However, recognition in the Society is not what motivated Guenther to make a planned gift. “I received so much from Loras,” he said. “I was very active in Campus Ministry, which, I think, spurred me on to consider the priesthood.”

Father Dan grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, and attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools before enrolling at Loras as a business and accounting major. He ultimately changed paths and received degrees in English and history before enrolling at Saint Paul Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

In May, he celebrated the 39th anniversary of his ordination. The years have not dimmed his memories or commitment to Loras.

“Back in those days, not a lot of kids had cars,” he said. “Loras would send a Greyhound bus out to western Iowa in the fall. They would pick up kids from each of the Catholic schools in the Sioux City Diocese. It was a full bus of Catholic school kids and I jumped aboard with a bunch of my friends. Once you get a student on campus, their chance of attending Loras greatly increases. My campus visit won me over and convinced me to come to Loras.”

Remembering the positive impact Campus Ministry had on him as a student prompted Guenther earlier this year to establish the Joseph and Hilaria Guenther Endowed Fund for Campus Ministry. Named in honor of his late parents, the purpose of the fund is to support Campus Ministry and the Office of Spiritual Life in its mission to nurture spirituality and positively guide students academically and socially in service to others. Father Dan has personally sent letters to family, friends, priests, and alumni asking them to contribute. To date, more than 70 donors have contributed $60,000 to the fund.

“I wanted to help faith grow at Loras College,” he said. “This is my attempt to help out Campus Ministry and give it a boost.”