Brother Thomas Novak

Brother Thomas Novak

Thomas Novak OMI was the first secretary of the Jubilee Fund. In a recent interview, he recalled that the Fund was actually conceived as a way for people of faith to participate in the Jubilee Year. When asked what makes the Fund unique among all the other investment funds out there, Brother Thomas responded, "The Fund is rooted in the faith and compassion of the investors."

"As faith groups around the world focussed on making the year 2000 a sacred time for cancelling the debt of the world's poorest countries, a small group of Manitoba faith people gathered to reflect on how the spirit of the Jubilee could be brought to bear on our own local economy."

"According to the Hebrew scriptures, every 50 years, slaves were to be set free and debts cancelled. (Leviticus 25:8-19). However, Jubilee is more than a celebration or a one-time effort to bring a little more justice into the world. It is a way of life, a commitment to create a community where everyone is able to gather enough to look after their needs and the needs of their families, and where no one would have too much (Exodus 16:17-18).

"We wanted to bring some of that Jubilee spirit into our own time. We wanted to find a way for faith groups and individual believers to use some of our investment dollars in a way that would help out people who cannot normally access the services of mainstream financial institutions. We discovered that a faith-based investment fund already existed in Eastern Canada, but we wanted to create something local, where Manitobans could invest in their own community, where they could see for themselves the results of their investments and talk to the people who have benefited from the Fund."

"Back then,in 1999 we hoped that the Fund would one day expand beyond the Christian community. After all, all of the great religious traditions have expressed, in different ways, the same essential wisdom that the key to peace among peoples is that all people have enough to live. For example, North American Aboriginals had regular ceremonial give-aways, such as the Potlatch. Islam teaches that every believer is to give 2.5% of his income in alms every year, and is to charge no interest on loans. I still look forward to the day when the Jubilee Fund membership will include a wider spectrum of Christian groups and non-Christian faith traditions."

Brother Thomas says that he first got to see the spirit of Jubilee at work, even before he had a name for it, when he worked as a Missionary in First Nations Communities in Northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Brother Thomas continues to be active in the Fund, assisting whenever he is called upon to help. He is part of the local leadership team for his order, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.