MCRI merges with SGI Coalition for Responsible Investing

By Barbara Jennings, CSJ

After two years of discussion about the best path forward, the St. Louis-based Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment (MCRI) merged with Milwaukee-based Seventh Generation Interfaith (SGI) coalition to make both organizations stronger. 

MCRI began in 1977 focusing on the issue of the day:  South African apartheid. Michael Crosby, OFM Cap, the founder of SGI, visited St. Louis to explain the process of shareholder engagement and encouraged the formation of a regional socially responsible investment coalition.  Several Catholic institutions in the area decided to form MCRI. Other connections between St. Louis and Milwaukee:  beer towns, Midwest agriculture, defense industry, and racial disparity. 

MCRI joined the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility shortly after it was formed. This connected us to many Catholic religious’ women and men congregations, as well as to representatives of other faith traditions.  We expanded our tactics beyond the traditional “negative screens” (e.g. no weapons, tobacco, gambling, birth control) to include corporate engagements, proxy voting and shareholder meeting attendance.

MCRI’s first resolution in 1978 asked McDonnell Douglas to build up its commercial business over military contracts which were dependent on foreign policy and regional conflicts. The proposal was presented by Sr. Mary Ann McGivern, SL. From that auspicious beginning, the work of MCRI expanded. By 1980, MCRI had thirteen institutional members. That same year, the coalition sponsored a local conference entitled “Corporate Responsibility: Why the Churches Must Be Involved.”  It was well attended by both treasurers and social justice representatives.       

Under the leadership of Susan Jordan, SSND, MCRI’s issues expanded to include nuclear waste (Union Electric, now Ameren), foreign military sales (General Dynamics, McDonnell Douglas/Boeing), and agricultural pesticides and GMO’s (Monsanto, now Bayer).  Other issues on which we engaged companies on were infant formula in Central America, AIDS medication from the pharmaceutical industry, and labor slavery in various supply chains.   

By 2007, Barbara Jennings, CSJ, who had been on MCRI’s Advisory Committee in the 1990’s, became the Executive Director of MCRI.  The issues at ICCR had grown tremendously, almost too much so that the saying at ICCR meetings was “We never met an issue we didn’t like.”  In 2015, ICCR adopted a human rights lens to all its’ work. Priority issues included climate change, human trafficking / labor rights, water stewardship and food justice.

MCRI continued to work with Ameren concerning their disposal of coal ash. A 2018 resolution received 53% vote, a rare majority for a shareholder resolution!  The coalition worked with Monsanto for several years on water issues. The company now uses low drip and recycling of water in their labs after a 2010 successful withdrawal of a resolution. After many years of engagement with Boeing, the company hired a third party auditor to delve into their supply chain for labor infringements.     

So, the work will go on….and with a more supportive business atmosphere than in 1977.   What has changed?   A greater awareness of the risks posed by climate change? Recognition of the liability posed by pollution?  Understanding that companies can outsource manufacturing but not the responsibility associated with it? The internet and social media together with increased societal expectations has placed more responsibility on corporations to account for their environmental and social impacts.

Each of the nine MCRI members (SSND, GSPMNA, CSJ, CPPS, OSU, SJ, SM, CSJ Congregational Center, and JAG Capital Management) will continue in corporate engagements as part of SGI’s coalition. I ask that you please stay active to bring the faith-based investor voice to corporate board rooms.

As for me, I have joined the SGI Board of Directors and will continue to remain active in this work. I was proud to be part of this journey and thank you for your support. 

Fr. Mike Crosby receives ICCR Legacy Award

On September 28, Fr. Dan Crosby, O.F.M. Cap., accepted ICCR’s Legacy Award on behalf of his brother and SGI’s founder, Fr. Mike Crosby, O.F.M. Cap., together with Sr. Patricia Daly, O.P., Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment.  The event was held at New York’s historic Riverside Church.  Fr. Dan Crosby accepted his brother’s award with humility and gratitude in the same way Mike approached his work. “The corporate executives whom Mike engaged always respected him because he was never trying to attack them,” he said. “He was just trying always to speak the truth in love.”

ICCR informed Fr. Crosby that he was receiving this year’s Legacy Award shortly after he began hospice treatment last June.   Fr. Mike shared at the time, “I want to finish my remarks with a word to the young people in the audience. You are the ones that inspired me to do this work. It was for you and future generations that inspired me. It is now your turn to carry this work forward to bring good news to the poor and God’s creation. God bless you all.”

Donations in honor of Fr. Mike Crosby

We have received inquiries about how a person might honor Fr. Mike Crosby, O.F.M., Cap., who passed away on August 5th. ICCR, for example, has encouraged its members to donate to SGI, and we are grateful for the support. They wrote:

Many of you know that Mike was instrumental in helping to recruit Catholic congregations into the ICCR fold and organizing them under regional coalitions for responsbile investment or “CRIs”. Mike himself was the Executive Director of the Midwest CRI also known as the Seventh Generation Interfaith CRI.

Seventh Generation Interfaith CRI is a 501(c)(3) public charity almost entirely based on member dues. If you would like to contribute to its mission in memory of Fr. Crosby, please, make your tax deductible check out to Seventh Generation Interfaith Inc. and send it to the following address:

Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment
1015 N. 9th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233

“Well done, good and faithful servant”

With sadness, we share the news that Fr. Mike Crosby, O.F.M., Cap. has died. In December of 2016, a CT scan and subsequent testing resulted in a diagnosis of cancer of the esophagus. In April, just after Easter, Fr. Mike underwent surgery after a course of radiation treatment and chemotherapy. While the initial prognosis looked positive, another CT scan in June revealed that the cancer had returned with force, and Fr. Mike entered hospice care in Detroit early that month.

Michael Crosby died on 5 August 2017 at the age of 77, after suffering with cancer.

Michael Crosby was born on 16 February 1940, the son of Hugh and Blanche Crosby of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He was invested in the Capuchin Order on 31 August 1959, perpetually professed his vows on 1 September 1963, and was ordained on 6 October 1966.

A writer and speaker, Michael was also the executive director of the Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment, which focuses on social ministry and activism through investment. Michael did pastoral ministry at St. Elizabeth Parish (now St. Martin de Porres Parish) in Milwaukee from 1968-1973. From 1973 until his death, Michael ministered in the area of corporate responsibility. Additionally, he was a collaborator for the canonization cause of Capuchin friar Solanus Casey.

Michael is survived by his brother Daniel (also a Capuchin friar), as well as his many Capuchin brothers with whom he lived, prayed and ministered during the past 58 years.

Visitation:
Thurs., Aug 10: St. Bonaventure Monastery, Detroit, 5-8 pm,
with service at 7 pm.

Friday, Aug 11: St. Francis Parish, Milwaukee, 5-8 pm, with service at 7 pm

Liturgy of Christian Burial:
Sat., Aug 12, St. Lawrence Seminary, Mt. Calvary WI; 10:30 am, with viewing beforehand.

Burial in Capuchin cemetery, Mt. Calvary WI

Fr. Mike’s reflections, and those of his brother Fr. Dan, are found on a Caring Bridge site.