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North Carolina Parish Becomes First in U.S. to Use Solar Panels to “Care for Creation”

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/05/15

It also may be one of the few in the country that has a “Care of Creation” parish committee.

From the Catholic News Herald:

With a blessing of holy water and the flick of a few switches, St. Eugene Church became the first parish in the U.S. to launch a solar energy program in the spirit of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’: On Care of Our Common Home.” Parish organizers, church members, community leaders and more than 100 Asheville Catholic students gathered Oct. 28 to help Father Patrick Cahill, pastor, power up the 146 solar panels now positioned all over the roof of the church’s parish hall. The first panels were installed Sept. 21 to coincide with the pope’s apostolic visit to the U.S. Parishioners and Asheville Catholic students signed their names on the backs of the panels to remember that day and the pope’s visit. One parishioner wrote: “These are the People’s Panels. We sign them to remember our response to the Pope’s Encyclical when he came here.” The $142,500 project was a joint effort of the parish’s Care of Creation committee, the pastoral council, diocesan officials and Father Cahill. Parishioners raised the money through donations and matching grants, reaching their goal six months after a “Solar Sunday Weekend” appeal in March. The system is expected to generate 45.99 kilowatts of power, about 22 percent of the church’s electricity needs. The system will be “net metered,” which means that when the system produces more electricity than what the church uses, the meter runs backward. That excess electricity flows back out to the power grid and Duke Energy provides a credit in the same amount as it would have charged… …Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, congratulated St. Eugene Parish on its solar panel project. In an Oct. 15 letter to organizer Bill Maloney, Cardinal Turkson wrote, “I wish to strongly congratulate your team, your parish, Father Pat Cahill and yourself for the great achievement in the care of creation. I am sure your example will be inspiring to many ecclesial structures. “I also thank you for your support to the Holy Father Pope Francis and to his recent Encyclical Laudato Si’.”

See pictures and read more.

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