Editorials

Renewable Energy a Parish Blessing

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With its newly launched clean energy project at five parishes, the archdiocese has taken another bold step in its commitment to protecting the environment.

The pilot program at three parishes on Staten Island and two in Yonkers uses rooftop solar panels capable of generating 50 percent of the energy needs of the parish and saving 25 percent of the cost of electric power.

We’re proud of the archdiocese for being in the forefront on the imperative of protecting the planet, an issue Pope Francis has made a priority of his papacy.

Indeed, in his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home,” the Holy Father called on people all over the world to take unified action to fight global warming, practice responsible development and protect the earth’s environment.

The parishes—Blessed Sacrament, St. Clare’s and St. Patrick’s on Staten Island and St. Ann’s and St. Anthony’s in Yonkers—worked with Con Edison Solutions, a part of the renewable energy subsidiary of New York’s Consolidated Edison power giant, and the archdiocesan Energy Department.

The project was introduced at a ceremony Oct. 30 at Blessed Sacrament, the largest of the participating parishes, with eighth-graders from Blessed Sacrament School joining in. The pastor, Msgr. Peter G. Finn, sees an additional benefit of the program as an educational aid to teach students about the latest in clean energy techniques.

We hope that after a period of monitoring the program will be expanded to facilities throughout the archdiocese. After all, solar panel technology has been around for a while and has advanced to the point that energy produced by the panels is cheaper than ordinary fossil fuel power.

We know that larger marquee-type projects will attract a lot of attention—like the impressive $35 million geothermal heating and cooling system built at St. Patrick’s Cathedral as part of its recent restoration. That project involved drilling 10 wells deep into the Manhattan bedrock to collect groundwater that can efficiently heat and cool the cathedral.

But other efforts, like the new solar panel project, will also have a measurable and lasting impact on our planet, whether carried out on church properties or in our own homes.

That’s why the work of the archdiocesan Energy Department is so important. Its initiatives to conserve power in parishes and other facilities have included energy audits of archdiocesan buildings, LED lighting upgrades and upgrades to more-efficient heating and cooling options.

Auxiliary Bishop John O’Hara said at the ceremony introducing the solar panels, “Preventing further environmental degradation has become a top priority for the Catholic Church under Pope Francis.” The project in the five parishes, he said, epitomizes the pope’s call for sustainable development, while serving “as a great model for our parishioners and our students.”

It certainly does.

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