A Variety of Gifts

Mark Peoples & One of His Orchard Trees

Mark Peoples grew up in Miami and was raised Catholic. When he turned 18, his parents shared with him that they were going to move to Europe. As he was an adult legally at that time, he stayed in the country and found a way to take care of himself. Mr. Peoples began working in the hospitality industry and became a manager and made his way on his own. Later in life he moved to North Carolina and married and started a family. During this time of his life, he was falling away from practicing his Catholic faith.

When Mr. Peoples first met Father Emmanual Akalue, he believed he exemplified the love that Jesus Christ has for His flock. Father Akalue’s vibrant spirit creates an aura around him. Mr. Peoples told him that his homilies sound like the Holy Spirit is speaking directly to the congregation. Soon after, Mr. Peoples left everything behind to move to Palm Bay and become a member of Our Lady of Grace community. He describes this community as a multi-cultural congregation and  believes Father Akalue is able to relate to everyone. “I love being in the presence of such of a holy man who inspires me to be fishers of men,” Mr. Peoples shares. He further shares that scripture and verse flow out of Father Akalue with ease as he never ceases to remind his flock how the core beliefs of a Catholic Christian can be found in the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “His love and compassion for his parishioners encourage us to love our neighbors as ourselves,” he says.

Mr. Peoples enjoys his parish community, and his home in Palm Bay and spends much of his time attending Mass, praying each mystery of the rosary daily and enjoying God’s bountiful creation – he loves working in his garden and tending to his newly planted orchard in his backyard. When Father Akalue was called to serve another parish and a new pastor came to Our Lady of Grace, Mr. Peoples was tentative. Father Akalue insisted that he stay with the parish community, and that he would be pleased with Father Villaire Philius. Mr. Peoples shares Father Akalue, as usual, was right. Mr. Peoples continued to be more engaged with his parish community and active with the Knights of Columbus. As he felt he had received much from his pastors and faith family, he had a strong desire to give back to his parish and his Church beyond the offertory and Our Catholic Appeal contribution he was giving. His faith and the return to practicing his faith was making an impact in his life and he had much gratitude for all God had provided him. He prayed on what to give and had conversations with his children to help him discern his gift. As we all do, he and his children wanted to be sure he could take care of himself and his family, but he also felt a call to give to the Church. He began collecting items which he could use to pray in his home. The collection grew and he realized he had essentially built a chapel in his home.

Mr. Peoples reached out to The Catholic Foundation of Central Florida (Foundation) to share that he wanted to leave a legacy gift but he also had chapel and liturgical items he would like to donate. A Foundation team member visited with Mr. Peoples on several occasions to meet him, pray with him, review his chapel items with him and help him to connect with the Office of Liturgy as Our Lady of Grace did not need all of the items he had collected. The Office of Liturgy was happy to accept some of the liturgical items which can be used when the Bishop travels throughout the diocese, and Our Lady of Grace also accepted some of the in-kind items. Mr. Peoples also decided to make a legacy gift establishing an endowment fund which would continue his Our Catholic Appeal contribution benefiting Our Lady of Grace into perpetuity. His prayerful discernment helped him to provide both a gift of in-kind liturgical items and a legacy gift in addition to his ongoing support of his parish community which he loves so much and also his broader faith family in the diocese.

If you are interested in learning more about how to leave a legacy for your parish or endowing your offertory or gift to Our Catholic Appeal, please reach out to one of the Foundation’s philanthropic advisors at (407) 246-7188 or visit www.cfocf.org/leavealegacy.

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