Ave Maria Mutual Funds
Ave Maria Mutual Funds is a U.S. mutual fund family that targets clients interested in financially sound investments in companies that do not violate certain religious principles of the Roman Catholic Church. Often described as socially responsible investing (SRI), but more accuratedly in the case of Ave Maria Mutual Funds, morally responsible investing (MRI) or faith-based investing.
According to the fund family prospectus and website, the company screens its investments first on financial criteria, then eliminates companies involved in the practice of abortion or whose policies are judged to be anti-family. What constitutes anti-family practices is based on moral judgments made by the company's Catholic Advisory Board. Examples cited by the fund family include companies distributing pornography, and companies with policies that they view undermine the sacrament of marriage. Involvement with contraception and abortion are some issues that disqualify a company from the fund, as is embryonic stem cell research. Unlike other ethical funds, however, it does not reject defense companies, alcohol or tobacco (other common SRI-screened areas).
The first of its funds was established in 2001. At the end of 2013, the Ave Maria Mutual Funds had almost $1.5 billion in assets under management. Most of that money is invested in the Ave Maria Rising Dividend Fund (Ticker: AVEDX), the firm's flagship fund, Ave Maria Catholic Values Fund (AVEMX) and Ave Maria Growth Fund (AVEGX). Other funds include Ave Maria Bond Fund (AVEFX), Ave Maria Opportunity Fund (AVESX) and Ave Maria World Equity Fund (AVEWX). The six Ave Maria Mutual Funds are managed by Bloomfield Hills, Michigan based Schwartz Investment Counsel, Inc. The firm was established in 1980 by George P. Schwartz, CFA. There is also an Ave Maria Money Market Account, which is really a money market fund managed by Pittsburgh, PA based Federated Investors. Schwartz also began offering an Ave Maria Separately Managed Account (Ave Maria SMA) product in late 2009. The Catholic Equity Fund merged into Ave Maria Rising Dividend Fund on March 30, 2007.
Catholic Advisory Board
In defining its process for screening investments based on religious principles, the board members are "guided by the magisterium of the Catholic Church and actively seek the advice and counsel of Catholic clergy". As of January 1, 2014, the board consists of the following members:
- Lou Holtz
- Larry Kudlow
- Tom Monaghan
- Michael Novak
- Paul R. Roney
- Phyllis Schlafly
- Father John Riccardo
- Bowie Kuhn, Founding Chairman (1926-2007)
The board's ecclesiastic advisor is Cardinal Adam Maida.
- "A Catholic View of Investing", New York Times, December 18, 2008