by Renae Bauer
(June 18, 2015) -- Perhaps a sign of providence, we dedicated and blessed our solar panels the same day Pope Francis' released his encyclical, "Laudato Si, on Care for Our Common Home."
The dedication and blessing marked one year of energy production by the solar panels. In that time, the panels converted enough sunshine into electricy to provide our Motherhouse with 28.7% of its electrical needs, quite close to the goal of 30%. Using solar electricity saved us $13,000 and helped us avoid 92 tons of carbon emission.
In a special ceremony, Bishop David Ricken blessed the solar panels and site, and offered kind words to the Sisters: "I'm so proud of the Sisters. This community, in particular, has two qualities that I have noticed since I've been here. One is they are very prophetic. They live the Gospel in such a way that often they are way ahead of us. And they also make us think and question our previous position, which is a great service."
While the panels are an environmentally friendly form of energy, it has been equally important to our Sisters to use the panels as a educational tool about alternative energy options. The site of the solar panels is features an educational walking path dotted with seven plaques explainingn how solar energy is generated. See our Solar Energy Tour page for details about seasonal, self-guided tours.