Conference: The Future of Church Property


The Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate's Church Properties Initiative invites you to join us November 7-9th at the University of Notre Dame for a conference on “The Future of Church Property.”

The conference will feature innovative thought leaders, including

  • Academic Researchers, such as Fr. Bob Dowd, C.S.C. (ND Associate Provost); Prof. Bill Evans (ND Economics; co-founder Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities), Fr. Stephen Koeth, C.S.C. (ND History), Dean Stefanos Polyzoides (ND Architecture), and colleagues from DukeGeorgetown, Notre Dame, Rutgers, and Villanova
  • Church Leaders, such as Bishop Kevin Rhoades (Fort Wayne-South Bend) and diocesan COOs like Betsy Bohlen (Chicago), Brian Mooney (Detroit), and Keith Parsons (Denver)
  • Industry Experts, from CBRE, JLLJulius Capital, and others
  • Nonprofit Organizations, such as Catholic Charities USACatholic Leadership Institute, Goodlands, Partners for Sacred Places, Trinity Church Wall Street and more!

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Why Church Property?

The Catholic Church is the largest social service provider in the world, providing education, humanitarian aid, and healthcare to more people than any other organization on the planet.

In order to live out its charitable missions, the Church is also the largest non-state landowner in the world, operating parishes, schools, universities, hospitals, orphanages, clinics, convents, monasteries, and more on every continent. 

With the sheer numerical size and diversity of the Church's portfolio in every corner of the world, there is a vast horizon of emerging multidisciplinary scholarly research of the role of these assets in climate change, history, urban planning, engineering, architecture, economics, sociology, finance, and more. 

The Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate is working to marshal the power of academic research, the leading industry best practices, and the creativity of on-the-ground innovators to help the Catholic Church and many other faith traditions as they face challenges in some regions of declining religiosity, increasing costs of aging buildings, and emerging pastoral concerns.

Too often, these challenges mean that real assets can be seen as liabilities instead of the financial, social, and spiritual assets that they can become for faith communities. This conference brings together those who are working to reverse this trend and unlock the power of property to further the mission of the Church.

Conference Overview

The conference will have four modules over the 3 days:

  1. Property, Mission, and Identity: Framing this conference within a broader ecumenical movement and rooting real estate within a theological context
  2. A Catholic Way to Build: How do we translate the distinctive tenets of our faith into modern real estate fields like architecture, finance, and law?
  3. A Way to Build Catholics: How do real assets directly support the Church's mission of living the Gospel?
  4. Practicums/Case Studies: Explore successful case studies and innovative uses of Church property with the experts that made it happen. 

The conference starts with registration at 2pm on Monday, November 7th, and concludes by noon on Wednesday November 9th.

A full schedule and speaker list will be published on this site shortly and sent via email to all who have registered. 

Prices, Sponsorship, and Booths

Prices are:

  • General admission: $150
  • Clergy/Religious: $75
  • Notre Dame Faculty/Staff/Students: Free

*Price includes dinner on Monday, and lunch and dinner on Tuesday. Please note any food allergies when registering. 

Registration pricing is heavily subsidized to make it affordable for students, religious/clergy, and nonprofit entities who would otherwise be unable to attend due to cost. If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to support these groups, please email for more information on sponsorship. 

Companies, NGOs, and institutions are able to rent expo booths that will be in the two main atriums of the conference where all coffee breaks will be for the entirety of the conference. If you are interested, you can indicate your interest on the registration process. 


A Call for Papers and Lightning Talks

As a Catholic University, we welcome all who are interested in this topic, and invite you to make your voices heard by responding to our call for both academic papers and 10 minute lighting talks by September 1st. 


Papers will be presented in a 20 min block, with the presentation no more than 15 minutes in length to allow for Q&A.

To submit a paper idea, please submit a proposal idea of no more than one page, 12 point font, single spaced and your CV to before September 1st. It can be submitted as part of the registration process, or at a later date, so long as it is in before September 1st.

The proposal should include the title, an outline of the talk, and any other notes such as the use of a PowerPoint. All selected papers will be made available for review after the conference. 

Lightning Talks

10 minute lightning talks will be held during the conference and selected speakers can use that time however they choose. Lightning Talks can cover any topic related Church property and can include personal experiences, successful case studies, ideas, or research on this topic that falls outside the scope of a full paper presentation.

To submit an application for a lighting talk session, submit a 250 word proposal as part of the registration process or email it at a later date to before September 1st.

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