My Perspective: Our Catholic mission of impact investing and shareholder advocacy

A conversation with Sister Sue Ernster

“True to Our Franciscan Calling, we commit ourselves … to preserve and nurture God’s creation, to increase social and global consciousness, to educate ourselves to political awareness, and to encourage action to effect change where necessary.”

This proclamation is spelled out in the solemn constitution of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Unity in Diversity #40. It is infused in every investment — all acts of ministry and social responsibility for the global community — that FSPA makes. It fortifies every dollar that donors like you give to advance our mission and our commitment to leveraging the power of your gift.

FSPA is engaging in the Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative, a collective of organizations missioned to “sharing our experience and celebrating our Catholic faith and values,” seeking expansion of “the use of wealth in service to people and planet.”

Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Vice President and Treasurer Sue Ernster took part in a recent CIIC community forum facilitated to “identify successful approaches that Catholic investors have taken to further their impact investing journey including the process of establishing governance, aligning investment policy statements and navigating challenges to implementation.” We share her contribution to the conversation and commitment to not just sustaining but nurturing and growing our global partnership with you.

Sister Sue defines impact investing specific to FSPA:

“We started our impact investing journey in 2018. Pope Francis was calling us to the Economy of Francesco, and we started looking at how we could build a Franciscan economy. Impact investing allowed us to use our finances to amplify our mission and make the greatest impact. As we embark on this journey, we are looking at what is greater, the social impact or the financial return. Given equality we invest for impact. Impact is a greater priority than risk or return.”

Sister Sue speaks to FSPA’s structure and implementation of impact investing:

“We are still figuring out our governance structure. There is a small committee of sisters who look at private market investments with a retired financial advisor. Looking to the future, we plan to broaden our consultant base. We already participate in Social Responsibility Investment screening with our publicly traded portfolio managers. We have found that there are not many publicly-traded opportunities that follow that Catholic Social Teaching.”

Sister Sue identifies FSPA investment objectives:

“Our investments are shaped by our 2018 mission assembly movements in which we outlined three main commitments. The first is bridging the equity gap, unveiling our white privilege so that our investments foster and fortify equity. The second is building bridges of relationships to stretch us to be people of encounter who stand with all suffering in our earth community, like political and environmental refugees. The third is our focus on joyful Gospel living, to be transformed in love and goodness for community and mission. We recognize that we can’t do everything for everyone, so we need to hone in where we can and trust that others will fill the gaps that we aren’t able to fill.


The mission and vision of the Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative align with FSPA’s provocative movements of Relationships, Gospel Living and Unity in Diversity.

About CIIC

CIIC’s Mission: By sharing our experience and celebrating our Catholic faith and values, we seek to expand the stewardsahip of financial resources in service to people and planet.
CIIC’s Vision: To foster a world where capital is a transformative force for good; stewards the environment; and enhances both equality and human dignity.
Collaborate with like-minded investors and partners by sharing knowledge, resources and opportunities.
Accelerate the flow of Catholic financial resources toward investments that pursue intentional, positive and measurable impact.

What CIIC Offers

The Catholic Impact Investing Pledge - a global initative encouraging investors to move beyond avoiding harmful investments to proactively making commitments to measurable impact investments.
Membership - a dedicated program offering investment opportunities and an online community platform for Catholic investors to connect, collaborate and accelerate their impact investing efforts. Coming soon: a membership tier for financial internediaries.
Catholic Impact Investing Resources - virtual community forums, 1:1 connections with peers, stories 
of Catholic impact, monthly newsletter and member-only pitch sessions about vetted impact investing opportunities.

Connect With CIIC

Anne Schankin, Director - anne@catholicimpact.org 
Maggie Stohler, Associate Director - maggie@catholicimpact.org

 


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