Congregational Minister for Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Congregation
conducted by Lynn Adler
Sisters of Saint Francis were among the first investors in Philadelphia's
LA: Maybe we can start talking about how the Order first got involved with Delaware Valley.
ML: Since 1980 we had been engaged in corporate responsibility work, using our shareholder influence with corporations. In the early 80s we became aware of the alternative investment movement. We were looking for opportunities where we might be able to create an intermediary ourselves, by which we would be able to invest in community organizations. We realized that we did not have the expertise to be able to do that ourselves. Then in 1985 we learned about Delaware Valley Community Reinvestment Fund (now known as The Reinvestment Fund) which was just beginning its initiative. The goals were very compatible between DVCRF and our congregation in how we wanted to be able to use our resources to provide finances for community organizations that were doing very good things but could not obtain loans from banks.
LA: Was there a pretty unanimous feeling among your folks? Was this a great idea, or there was some resistance?
ML: We really did try to educate the members to what was happening. There was some concern at first about whether we were jeopardizing and putting our resources at risk, especially from sisters concerned about retirement. But, I really believe, especially after our initial investment, there were no repercussions and we began to invest more monies, sisters really became very happy and proud of the fact that we were able to use our resources in this manner.
DG: The congregation had determined that we would use a percentage of the revenues from our investment portfoliothese are the monies that subsidize the retirement of our sisters and also sisters who are ill or disabled. So, this was a very tricky sort of a circumstance in terms of realizing that we were dependent on that money. But, we also, in 1986, in our mission statement, stated very clearly that we were going to direct our personal and corporate resources in direct care of the poor and the oppressed. Our founder, Mother Frances, is quoted widely as saying: "As long as God keeps giving to us we will continue to give to the poor."