Clara Willmann was a tiny lady who has had an outsized impact on the pastoral care work of St. George Church in the 36 years since the inception of the Clara B. Willmann Trust. Although we hear and read about the Trust often in our church life, many of us may not know the story. Clara was a parishioner who had a vision of the people of St. George doing the work of Jesus among those struggling with emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. So much did she have a passion for the work that she gave 61% (or about $625,000) of her estate for the ongoing pastoral care of the St. George community. Part of the subsequent trust was the Willmann family home on Castle Lane, known as the Willmann House, which has been used over the years for everything from temporary housing for parishioners to youth group gatherings to temporary church offices during the recent capital campaign.
The purpose of the trust was specifically and narrowly laid out to meet Clara’s wishes to establish a Pastoral Care Ministry at St. George. As stated in the Trust documents, “Pastoral care ministries are caring and healing ministries, as demonstrated by the life, teachings and ministry of Jesus Christ, to individual people dealing with their individual, as opposed to group, needs and involve meeting and dealing, in a personally caring way, with the human emotional, spiritual and physical needs of hurting people.”
The Willmann Board has been invested and stewarded since the initial very generous contribution for 38 years with the interest income being used as Clara requested. The Trust provides for a salaried pastoral care administrator who is currently Marilynne Herbster. She monitors the pastoral care needs of St. George parishioners and keeps the trustees informed as to the ongoing programs. Parishioners and agencies in the San Antonio area can apply for grants which are dispersed yearly. For instance, last year grants were given to Christian Assistance Ministry, Larkspur Elementary School, Magdalena House, Pay It Forward (Clean and Sober Living), and West Avenue Compassion Center.
Clara Willmann’s generosity has made a dramatic impact on St. George life, insuring that the work of Jesus among the emotionally, physically, and spiritually hurting continues.
Written by Pam Piedfort