Economy of Communion
We are happy to let you know that this year’s North American Meeting of the Economy of Communion (EoC) will be held at Creighton University in Omaha Nebraska, on Oct. 5-6, 2018.
We are continuing to alternate the location of our meetings between the little city of Mariapolis Luminosa and Universities supporting or desiring to learn more about the EoC. Last year’s meeting and summer school was held at Mariapolis Luminosa, so it was the turn of another university this year.
The choice fell on Creighton University, where one of our members, Prof. Andy Gustafson, teaches business ethics. We will have the opportunity to meet many new friends there, incl. some of his fellow professors, students and local entrepreneurs, as well as learn more about Andy’s local EoC business called Communion Properties.
More details regarding the agenda will be shared soon. Stay tuned.
On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, we had the opportunity to present the Economy of Communion project (EoC) at the World Bank Civil Society Policy Forum in Washington DC.
This was the first time that the EoC was featured at an event from the World Bank, a financial institution that is part of the United Nations systems and whose mission is to help reduce poverty.
51 people attended the session representing various NGOs from all over the world, World Bank employees, The International Monetary Fund, and the Bretton Woods Project. The session had the title “Impact Investment as a Tool for Social Development”. Nick Sanna represented the EoC. The other panelists included Marc Jourdan, the moderator, and Jenna Giandoni, a research fellow from an NGO named the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development that was founded by former president Fernandez of the Dominican Republic. Dr. Muthukumara Mani, a lead environmental economist at the World Bank, also spoke.
New Humanity of the Focolare Movement was a sponsor along with the Global Foundation, the International Federation of Business and Professional Women and the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF). Joe Klock, the coordinator of New Humanity, Inc. in the US, is quite active in promoting the EoC at the UN and deserves all the credit for assuring our participation in the event.
The audience responded well to all the presentations that were followed by a very active Q&A session. Some asked questions on impact development and Nick fielded several questions on the EoC. At the end of the meeting, several persons came forward and asked Nick for follow-on meetings in DC. One attendee asked to get involved and will try to attend the upcoming EoC Summer School. The next day, Joe Klock’s contacts from the UN in New York told him that they enjoyed the EoC presentation very much, especially noting the concrete examples that were given.
Joe also attended a session for faith-based organizations chaired by the leader of the World Bank’s Global Engagement faith initiative, Adam Taylor with about 25 attendees. Apparently, the World Bank is starting to engage civil society and faith-based organizations to look for insights into what delivers results in leading people out of extreme poverty. They see these organizations as a vehicle for communicating with people at the grassroots level. Joe plans to continue participate in those meetings and promote the EoC and other New Humanity projects as models of socio-economic development.
The Civil Society Policy Forum have become integral part of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring and Annual Meetings that bring together 10,000 from all over the world.
Learn more about the Economy of Communion by attending the EoC Summer School (June 20-23) and Annual Meeting (June 23-25). You can get more information and register here.
“This was the best presentation about business ethics I have seen in my four years here. It was realistic.” (student)
“I thought that today’s panel presentation was very well done, and exactly the kind of perspective to which we should be exposing our students. It was right on in terms of our mission: Developing responsible leaders for the greater good and the bottom line.” (faculty)
These were some of the impressions from the circa 150 students and professors of St. Bonaventure University that attended the panel discussion on ‘the Business Practices of the Economy of Communion’ on April 6th, 2017.
If you didn’t get to go and want to watch it, you can access the video via this link.
April 6, 2017 – Live Streaming of Panel Discussion on ‘Business Practices of the Economy of Communion’
A panel discussion at St. Bonaventure University on Thursday, April 6, will address business practices of the Economy of Communion, an international business and societal model based on shared profits and a “culture of giving.”
The program, a presentation of the William C. Foster ’62 Center for Responsible Leadership in the School of Business at St. Bonaventure, in partnership with the university’s School of Franciscan Studies, will be held at 11:30 a.m. in Rigas Family Theater of the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.
The Economy of Communion (EoC) was started by Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, in response to the social problems and imbalanced economy she found on a visit to Brazil in 1991. Today, some 860 EoC businesses in more than 50 countries embrace EoC’s alternative to capitalistic systems: a sharing of profits to help combat poverty and indigence, and a commitment to work toward a common good.
It’s a topic that fits a Foster Center initiative of providing our students with leadership and scholarship opportunities in the Franciscan tradition, said Dr. Michael Gallagher, assistant professor of finance at St. Bonaventure. “The Economy of Communion embraces these very ideals, and seeks to promote a fraternal economy, a new conception of economic behavior, with businesses not only sharing profits and community productivity, but fighting various forms of exclusion, poverty and indigence,” he said.
It’s also a topic ripe for the times, said Fr. David Couturier, O.F.M., Cap., dean of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure, executive director of its Franciscan Institute, and one of four experts on the panel.
“Ever since the November elections, budget talks have swirled around increased defense spending and tax cuts for wealthy Americans with large-scale cuts to programs such as Meals on Wheels and Medicaid. Some economists are forecasting a rise in income inequality and a ‘class warfare’ between the rich and the poor over the next few years,” said Couturier.
“This discussion will introduce several different economic models to understand our financial issues. We will invite participants to get to know several ‘economies of communion’ and ‘relational economies’ that might help navigate these turbulent economic times with our social, cultural and family relationships intact,” he said.
Couturier, who earned his Ph.D. in pastoral psychology and organizational studies, has written and lectured extensively on the organizational and economic dynamics of religious and not-for-profit institutions. Known for his combined expertise in organizational development, strategic planning and Franciscan education, he has worked as an organizational consultant for congregations, religious communities and dioceses through the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Joining him on the panel is a professor who has spent a decade researching the business practices of companies in the Economy of Communion, as well as the heads of two EoC businesses:
- Dr. John Gallagher, professor of management, who teaches strategic management and international business at Maryville College, Maryville, Tenn., as well as executive MBA courses at the University of Tennessee. He previously spent more than 20 years as a corporate executive and consultant in manufacturing and service industries. He is co-author of the book “Structures of Grace: Business Practices of the Economy of Communion.” (New City Press, 2014.)
- Nicola “Nick” Sanna, CEO of RiskLens, a provider of cyber risk management software, and the former head of several internet analytics and security companies. Fluent in five languages, Sanna lectures extensively on the subject of social entrepreneurship and is an advisory board member of the School of Business and Economics at Catholic University of America.
- John Mundell, president and CEO of Mundell & Associates, Inc. of Indianapolis, Ind., an earth science, environmental and water resources consulting firm founded in 1995 as part of the EoC. Mundell serves on the International and North American EoC commissions, aiding development of the EoC at the national and global levels.
Admission to the April 6 event is free and the public is welcome. The panel discussion will be available for real-time viewing and archived for future viewing on the university’s Ustream channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/st-bonaventure-university-live-stream.
The Foster Center for Responsible Leadership is made possible through an endowment gift by Daria L. Foster, Managing Partner of Lord, Abbett & Co. LLC, honoring her late husband of more than 30 years, William C. Foster. A member of St. Bonaventure’s Class of 1962 and Fordham Law School (’65), William Foster practiced law for 35 years, retiring in 2000 as senior associate counsel for Champion International. He served on St. Bonaventure’s Board of Trustees from 2008 to his passing in 2010.
Learn more about the panel discussion and about the Foster Center for Responsible Leadership at www.sbu.edu/fostercenter.
This article was first published on St. Bonaventure’s website on March 28, 2017.
Join us at Mariapolis Luminosa in Hyde Park, NY for:
The 2017 EOC SUMMER SCHOOL
From dinner on June 20th through lunch on June 23rd, 2017
The ANNUAL MEETING OF THE NORTH AMERICAN EOC ASS.N
From lunch on June 23rd through lunch on June 25th, 2017
A new vision for the economy and business
In today’s world, globalization presents to us significant challenges such as poverty, inequality, unemployment, and forced migration… All these situations make us question if this is the world we want, if the economy can change for the better.
The Economy of Communion project (EOC) offers a new perspective facing these challenges: a new business culture where free enterprises become the cradle of a culture of giving, that fosters fraternity, social bonds, sustainability, and communion, rather than individualism and profit as an end in itself.
Learn more and register
You can learn more about both events and register at the following link.
The deadline to register is May 26, 2017.
The annual report of the Economy of Communion initiative for 2016 is now available in English.
It has been published as an insert in the latest release of the Citta’ Nuova magazine. Its North American counterpart, Living City Magazine, is publishing a series of articles on the EoC in its upcoming issue.
You review the full insert by clicking on the following link: edc_44-eng-online.
Initial reflections on the audience that the Economy of Communion members had with Pope Francis on Feb 4th, 2017
The full text of Pope Francis’ address is now widely available. It has been disseminated on numerous websites, including here on ours, and posted to various social media. Here is the Vatican’s official translation into English. This is a good and wonderful thing for all of us; to have his message shared for all peoples and for all time. This is a joy! This makes it possible for everyone to study his words, ponder his meaning, and share insights and questions with each other.
Let us also recognize then that his address was indeed a joyous occasion, and not only for those who were there but as a joyous occasion of unity with all of the Economy of Communion. Pope Francis clearly knows of our work, and our efforts, and our values, and recognizes them as the gospel in action. And while our time with him was brief, we can carry his message in our hearts and minds everywhere we go and for all time. For those of us who were there, we have a special responsibility. For to us was given the opportunity to not just read his printed words on a page, but to receive this message as the spoken word, which as we know, can be a special means of grace. To be there together and to hear not just the words, but the tone of his voice, his inflections, his pauses, and to see his facial expressions and his gestures of emphasis, all provide a richness that is not apparent in the printed words. Our responsibility is to share the richness of this experience as widely, broadly, and deeply as we can; to enrich his simple, straightforward, yet powerful printed words with the richness of our experience on that day.
I believe that Pope Francis was happy to be there with us and to be in unity with us. And us with him. Much of his address to us was a celebration of our work and the work of the EOC over these past 25 years. He specifically speaks of us introducing communion into the economy and beginning a profound change in the way of seeing and living business in today’s world. He celebrates with us that our work can make the economy beautiful. He also celebrates our ethical and spiritual choice to pool profits because it is a statement to the world that we first serve God and not money. Francis characterizes the sharing of profits as the “best and most practical way” to avoid the idolatry of money. Here (as he does throughout the address) Francis echoes the long-standing teaching of the church about the universal destination of goods and the social mortgage that accompanies all forms of property, even the profits from our businesses. Thus does Francis celebrate our work to be “merchants that Jesus does not expel” but rather merchants who walk with the poor, the marginalized, or as Francis says, the “discarded”.
But it is at this point that Francis also challenges us – in a significant and very serious way. For the profits that we generate are the result of participation in an economic system that seems by necessity to produce “discarded people” that the system then looks to hide or remove from our communion by caring for them in distant and non-personal ways rather than walking with them. Francis certainly admonishes us not to do this; to go beyond being just Good Samaritans who care for the victims of our society but to work for systemic social change such that tomorrow’s victims will never come into being. And in this work, to not just give our time and our money, but to give all of ourselves. Until we give everything of ourselves we will never give “enough”. This too echoes the teaching of the Church reminding us that Christ asks us for total surrender.
There is much in this challenge for us to ponder and discern; for the way forward – the numerous ways in which we might think about this challenge and how to respond to it, and embrace it are not obvious. But here Francis provides some guidance by encouraging us to perhaps remain small; to remain the “seed, salt, and leaven” that is the real secret to change. He suggests we might become the leaven of a new economy, the “economy of the Kingdom”.
About the author
Dr. John Gallagher, Professor of Management, Maryville College
For the past decade, Gallagher has been involved in researching the business practices of companies that participate in the Economy of Communion, which promotes using private enterprise to address social problems. In 2014, he and Dr. Jeanne Buckeye of the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., published their first book: “Structures of Grace: Business Practices of the Economy of Communion” (New City Press).
Gallagher teaches strategic management and international business courses at Maryville College, as well as executive MBA courses at the University of Tennessee. Prior to his academic career, he spent over 20 years as a corporate executive and consultant in both manufacturing and service industries.
Gallagher completed his undergraduate education at Boston College, and earned his MBA and Ph.D. from The University of Tennessee.