An inspiring event took place recently at the Curryhills House Retreat Centre in County Kildare, Ireland. The event, jointly hosted by the Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative (CIIC), and FaithInvest, was entitled a Catholic Investing Gathering and was attended by 21 Catholic faith-based investors interested in aligning their investments more closely to their mission.
The event began with a clip from the recently released feature film The Letter, based on Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical 'Laudato Si - on care for our common home.' The film was produced by the Oscar-winning production company 'Off the Fence' and directed by Emmy-winning Nicolas Brown in collaboration with the Laudato Si' Movement and in partnership with the Vatican Dicasteries of Communications and of Integral Human Development.
Released on 4 October 2022, this YouTube original, which features the Pope prominently, already has more than eight million views. Importantly for this gathering, the film represents the powerful spiritual underpinnings of the movement toward faith-consistent investing. FaithInvest's Lorna Gold commented that 'kicking off with powerful faith-inspiring content was essential. This really set the tone of the conversations.'
Impact investing was featured throughout the day, and an important aspect of impact investing is understanding where it 'fits' in the broader spectrum of faith-consistent investing. This was addressed by Lorna Gold and co-host Anne Schankin of CIIC, who described impact as having 'targeted social and/or environmental benefits' that also provide a financial return on investment.
A fireside chat moderated by Lorna Gold included John O'Shaughnessy, CFO of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, and Father Seamus O'Neill, of St. Patrick's Missionary Society.
Many attendees found this session to be the highlight of the day, as the conversation focused on how these experienced impact investors got started, which many at the gathering were interested in, as their organisations are increasingly looking at shifting assets in this direction.
More and more products are becoming available for faith-focused impact investors, and the need for a better understanding of how these products work will be very useful. But the biggest challenge, according to John O'Shaughnessy, 'is knowing where to get start'.
He suggested that one such place is with organisations' investment policy and guidelines statements, which will reveal how much faith-consistent investment language is present, and can lead to refinements in the policy and improvements in expanded implementation.
A clear message from the attendees was interest in further meetings, education, and sharing of ideas with colleagues and decision makers at their respective organisations, with the goal of greater implementation of faith-consistent investing. Said one attendee: 'It's a whole new mindset.'