Collaboration can bring about prosperity for credit union members and the Church we love. All we have to do is be thoughtful about BOTH the intended consequences AND the unintended consequences of how we do our banking.
Banks are for-profit entities formed with the ultimate goal of making money for the investors. This makes them tend to be highly competitive with each other. Credit unions, however, are not-for-profits formed with the ultimate goal of serving the members. This makes them tend to be highly collaborative. This is an advantage in many instances because solidarity often brings prosperity. The credit union model allows many people to band together to mutually enrich each other. That’s what a credit union is. One member needs a place to put her savings and another needs a place to go to borrow some money. Everybody is a looking for a win-win. This is why if one credit union cannot adequately meet a legitimate need of one of its members, it usually seeks a partner credit union to help the member on this issue. The vibe in the industry tends to be, “We’re all in this together!”
This is why Catholic Credit Unions of America was formed, to help each other in the same way that we help our members. Credit unions of the CCUA are diverse. Some are large, some are small. Some run on volunteers, some are highly professionalized. Different credit unions serve different niches. But this is exactly how it should be. In fact it nicely parallels St. Paul’s teaching on the diversity of the body of Christ.
“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ…. Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.” Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary…, but God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” – 1Cor 12: 12, 14-18, 21-22, 24-26
Within our group of 30 Catholic credit unions with collective net assets of over $2.5 Billion, we all have slightly different charisms. We also have special concentrated areas of expertise that we can share with each other. Sometimes we pitch in together to finance larger loans. Sometimes we are able to help each other recommend vendors or best practices. The important thing is to be talking to each other. When we do this, we are able not only to help each other in many practical matters, but we also inspire and encourage each other to stay true to our missions. This is important! When a Catholic credit union is forced to merge with a secular credit union, what do you think happens to its unique Catholic perspective? It gets lost. At the CCUA, we are not only trying to prevent this, we help member credit unions to focus on how the light of the gospel impacts their own mission as a credit union. Catholics have a unique perspective on the world that has slowly eroded away in the financial sector. We seek renewal and aim to focus once again on the concept of serving the common good.
“Besides the good of the individual, there is the good that is linked to living in society: the common good. It is the good of “all of us”, made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. … To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (par. 7)