Like many social-impact investors, the Sisters of Mary Reparatrix began investing with a modest dollar amount. The congregation was already active in shareholder advocacy on environmental and social issues through the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), and accepted an invitation from another ICCR member, Sr. Pat Wolf, RSM, who was helping to form the nascent Leviticus Fund.
The Reparatrix sisters hold the first investment offered by Leviticus in February of 1983. They remain active investors to this day, along with 65 other Member investors that hold over $4.8 million in combined investments.
“It all took time, and we had to watch our pennies to make sure we could safely invest this money,” said Sr. Ann Kasparek, USA Region Team Member. “We have never regretted our investment and over the years have added to it. We have an ongoing commitment to Leviticus.”
Sr. Ann and Sr. Margaret Hoey, the USA Region Treasurer, said the sisters were drawn to Leviticus because it gave priority to providing capital to groups that showed potential, but were not considered credit worthy by traditional lenders. The tristate focus was also important. The sisters trace their roots back to 1908 when they arrived in the New York Archdiocese. Their first ministries involved retreats and spiritual direction, and they operated a retreat house in New York City just blocks from the Empire State building.
Over time ministries changed, and with the sale of properties the sisters increased their investments.
“What keeps us committed is really two things: one that you are aiming at sustainability. The projects touch people directly and as an investor we see our money being used wisely in service to the poor,” said Sr. Ann. “Your overhead is also low and Leviticus wisely uses money for staff and for growth.”
Social-impact investing by groups like the Reparatrix sisters was also guided by justice and faith.
“There is a quote that ‘justice is a constitutive element of the Gospel’,” explained Sr. Margaret, referencing the 1971 Vatican document, Justice in the World. “So many people are better at charity then they are with justice. For women religious those words were an awakening to what we could do. As we sold properties we did not just take the money, we wanted to invest. It was a conscious decision. It was a moment of grace.”
“I just love the variety of projects that Leviticus finances and the success stories,” added Sr. Ann. “Leviticus is very responsible. You do your research before making a loan, and that is really important. You are not afraid to venture out with some of these organizations that have potential, and just need that extra boost.”