Religious women honored for community development leadership

(DENVER, CO) — Two Denver-based Community Development Financial Institutions, Mercy Loan Fund and Mile High Community Loan Fund, celebrated anniversaries with a reception sponsored by US Bank at last month’s Opportunity Finance Network conference that brought over 1,000 members of the community development financing industry to Denver.

Sister Lillian Murphy Sister Corinne Florek and Julie Gould
Left to Right: Sr. Corinne Florek, Sr. Lillian Murphy, Julie Gould

The two are specialized financial institutions that work in economically distressed markets that are underserved by banks. CDFIs provide loans to small- to mid-sized businesses, microenterprises and nonprofit organizations. Loans to nonprofit organizations are used to develop affordable housing, build community facilities, expand services and promote economic development initiatives. They support their borrowers throughout the term of the loan, resulting in a low rate of default for serving economically poor populations. CDFIs get their loan capital from national and community banks, socially-motivated individuals, religious institutions and health care systems, foundations and corporations, who lend at below-market interest rates. What all of these loans have in common is they create jobs, encourage long-term financial sustainability and stabilize communities.

Many industry leaders were in attendance for the event, which was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Denver Branch offices.  The focus of the event was to honor Sr. Lillian Murphy, RSM and Sr. Corinne Florek, OP for their community development leadership. Each received a “Spirit of Community” award for going above and beyond the call of duty, supporting programs and policies that create opportunities for the economically poor to create positive change in their lives.

Sr. Lillian recently retired after 27 years as the head of Mercy Housing, MLF’s parent organization and one of the country’s largest owners and developers of affordable housing. In her remarks, Julie Gould, President of Mercy Loan Fund, described Sr. Lillian as follows: “Using the values of Respect, Justice and Mercy, Sr. Lillian inspires her Mercy Housing family and the industry as a whole to invent new methods, measure our impact, go to scale, and envision a more humane world where poverty is alleviated, communities are healthy, and everyone can develop to their full potential.”

Sr. Corinne  is the Executive Director of the Religious Communities Investment Fund, a fund that guide the investment of resources from women’s religious communities into socially impactful uses. She has been a central figure in the community investment movement even before the creation of the federally certified CDFI system. “The nuns recognized early on that charity is not enough: to eradicate poverty we need to embrace INVESTING in our communities!” said Ms. Gould in her remarks. “I see the clear mark of Sr. Corinne’s influence on the Catholic faith’s embrace of alternative investment policy.”

“Mile High Community Loan Fund is proud to showcase our wonderful Colorado community to the CDFI industry through this event,” said Jeff Seifried, MHCLF’s executive director. “At 15 years old, I can’t wait to see what we accomplish in our next 15 years.”

About Mile High Community Loan Fund

Mile High Community Loan Fund was founded in 1999 with an investment from the City of Denver to provide a source of early stage capital for affordable housing. Today, MHCLF has grown to be a $14 million loan fund that has originated over 130 loans for a total of more than $49 million. Responding to need, MHCLF has grown in stages to cover the entire state of Colorado. While MHCLF has deep roots in affordable housing financing, the organization has evolved into a broader community financing resource, providing financing to community facilities, charter schools, small businesses, and more.

About Mercy Loan Fund

Mercy Loan Fund, a subsidiary of the national affordable housing organization Mercy Housing, provides financing to hundreds of local nonprofit organizations, enabling them to build or preserve affordable housing in their communities. Since 1985, the organization has made 463 loans in 38 states totaling $260 million, resulting in 19,900 affordable homes for over 53,200 residents. These loans have leveraged more than $1.7 billion in total development funding. Mercy Loan Fund is certified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Mercy Loan Fund was formed with the goal of supporting the mission of Mercy Housing by making loans for affordable housing developments when conventional financing is not affordable or available. For information about Mercy Loan Fund, please visit