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Celebrating solar energy

BY FR. AL HIRT, OFM

I’m blessed to be in my 20th year as the pastor of St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center in Cincinnati. Over the years many of our members have had a passion for Care of Creation, being conscious of the environment. My own enthusiasm for this aspect of our Franciscan charism continues to grow. Our parishioners warmly embraced Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si”, highlighting the dangers to our planet and calling for all of us to take steps to curb the global warming.

Two years ago we took the steps to change all of our lighting to LED and to install solar panels. Why not draw as much of our energy from the sun as possible? It reduces our carbon footprint and saves us thousands of dollars each year. Parishioners embraced this project so much that we raised the entire $163,000 to pay for this upgrade. With energy-saving light bulbs and the 119 solar panels, we have gone from average annual electricity bills of $28,000 to $13,000. Recently other parishes have come and toured our installation and heard a presentation about our effort. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has a big commitment to encourage more “greening.”

Hopefully more and more buildings and homes will convert to solar and other renewable sources of energy, lowering the dangerous amounts of carbon dioxide.

But we aren’t done! We are now on a path to make our landscaping more native and natural, plantings that will attract the insects, birds, butterflies, bees, etc. Plant by plant, tree by tree, solar panel after solar panel, we can each make a difference in protecting our environment.

(Fr. Al celebrates the success of solar energy in a YouTube video.)

 

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