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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 Catholic Church. Often described as socially responsible investing (SRI), this practice is more accurately in the case of Ave Maria Mutual Funds called morally responsible investing (MRI) or faith-based investing.
The first of its funds was established in 2001. As of December 31, 2017, the Ave Maria Mutual Funds had over $2.0 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 Growth Fund (AVEGX) and Ave Maria Value Fund (AVEMX). Other funds include Ave Maria Bond Fund (AVEFX), and Ave Maria World Equity Fund (AVEWX).
The five Ave Maria Mutual Funds are managed by Plymouth, 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.
The Catholic Equity Fund merged into Ave Maria Rising Dividend Fund on March 30, 2007. Schwartz also began offering an Ave Maria Separately Managed Account (Ave Maria SMA) product in late 2009.
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 feticide (aka abortion) also disqualify a company from the fund, as does embryonic stem cell research. Unlike other ethical funds, however, it does not reject defense companies, alcohol, or tobacco (other common SRI-screened areas).
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 March 31, 2018, the board consists of the following members:
- Lou Holtz, Emeritus
- Larry Kudlow
- Tom Monaghan
- Melissa Moschella
- Gloria Purvis
- Scott Hahn
- Paul R. Roney
- Robert P. George
- Father John Riccardo, Emeritus
Former Board Members
- "A Catholic View of Investing", New York Times, December 18, 2008