Catholic Communities Come Together for Community Investing

The Jubilee Assembly is a framework for faith-based investors - including from within the Catholic Church and its many agencies and institutions - to, as Pope Francis says, “renew our commitment to serve the common good with love and with preference for the most poor and vulnerable of our brothers and sisters".

That succinct statement was echoed in Pope Francis’ welcoming letter to a 2014 Vatican Conference on impact investing. He wrote: “Impact investors are those who are conscious of the existence of serious unjust situations, instances of profound social inequality and unacceptable conditions of poverty affecting communities and entire peoples. Investments of this sort are meant to have positive social repercussions on local communities, such as the creation of jobs, access to energy, training and increased agricultural productivity.”

Many Catholic healthcare institutions have positively responded to the Pope’s call or even been seriously engaged in impact investing long before it. Trinity Health has been doing impact investing for decades, and is a long-time investor in Calvert Foundation. Trinity Health is one of the largest Catholic health care delivery systems in the U.S., serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. We are conscious of how social inequality and poverty affect health. Consequently, Trinity Health works to respond to the needs of the communities it serves by addressing the social determinants of health – such as lack of access to affordable housing and insufficient healthy foods.

The Trinity Health Community Investment Program is part of these efforts, and is based on Trinity Health’s core values, in particular, to stand with and serve those who are poor, especially those who are most vulnerable. So far, the program has lent over $35 million, mainly to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that focus on underserved communities, with an emphasis on the needs of women and children by:

  • Fostering affordable and special needs housing
  • Promoting available childcare for low-income families
  • Empowering low-income people to create, manage their own enterprises
  • Revitalizing urban neighborhoods and rural areas
  • Safeguarding the environment and promoting the earth’s sustainability
  • Supporting healthy communities

With this background and context, Trinity Health sees its participation in the Jubilee Assembly as an extremely useful arena to exchange ideas with other faith-based impact investors. For us it is extremely helpful to talk with other such investors about the rationales for their respective faith and denominational impact investing; to learn about the kinds of impact investing they do; to hear about the best practices they employ; to discuss what strategies they undertake; and finally, to explore possible areas for cooperation and collaboration going forward.

Cathy Rowan is a member of the Jubilee Assembly committee and Director of Socially Responsible Investments at Trinity Health.