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Sisters divesting their assets work to transform them into agents of change

February 28, 2022 Article 9 min read
Authors:
Sister Mary Pellegrino Plante Moran REIA
Transitioning or divesting assets can have meaning beyond completion; this process can also catalyze change. Read more in the Global Sisters Report about the urgency, and opportunities, facing religious congregations today.
View from the ground looking up at vines over facade of residential building

Congregations across the United States are going through the same process: communities are putting their land into preservation trusts or similar structures to protect them from development; they are selling or converting buildings to create long-term care facilities for aging sisters and sometimes laypeople; they are downsizing to become more efficient or reduce their environmental impact; and some are selling land and buildings to pay for unfunded healthcare needs.

“Over time both the expressions of mission and the needs of our members have changed and evolved, and at every turn we have had to realign our resources in service to those evolving needs and mission expressions,” Sr. Mary Pellegrino wrote the Global Sisters Report. “Regardless of the circumstances, I think that sisters are coming to any discernment about the use or disposition of these types of assets with different questions and different awareness than we may have had in the past. The current social and cultural climate is a very different context for this discernment … so we may be making very different decisions about our property and land than we have in the past.”

Pellegrino is a Sister of St. Joseph of Baden, Pennsylvania, a former president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and is now a senior vice president at Plante Moran Real Estate Investment Advisors (REIA), where she assists in religious communities’ financial and ministry planning.

In some ways, sisters’ efforts to transform unneeded assets is not new — congregations have been doing projects such as converting buildings into affordable senior housing on their campuses for years. But others are going further, working to transform their assets into engines of change.

Learn how congregations across the United States are using their land and buildings as agents of change in the Global Sisters Report.

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