The Catholic Church is the largest nongovernmental landowner in the world, but with aging assets and demographic shifts, the Church’s expansive real estate portfolio of schools, parishes, convents, hospitals, monasteries and more is often highly underutilized.
This became apparent to David Murphy, a 2014 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, while he was living in San Diego as a U.S. Navy helicopter pilot. Murphy came across an empty convent in the heart of an affluent neighborhood and was curious about how the Catholic church could convert it to meet the needs of the local community. Through his later efforts, he helped transform the convent into housing for young adults.
Murphy, now a seminarian in the Congregation of Holy Cross, is also working with the Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate (FIRE) on its church properties initiative. The initiative was created to address the real estate challenges and opportunities that the Catholic Church faces in the U.S. As a visiting scholar with FIRE, he helps parishes understand how their underutilized real estate can be used in innovative ways.