Pope Inspires San Diego Church To Go Solar

st. patrick, a san diego church with solar panels
St. Patrick Church Credit: Sullivan Solar Power

As we’ve noted several time, Pope Francis has made environmental concerns a central part of his own ministry. We expect numerous statements on climate change this year, including an encyclical (a major policy statement from the Vatican), and a speech to the United Nations. That’s great news for the international conversation about addressing environmental challenges, and for recognizing their significant impact on the world’s poorest people… but does it really mean much to the average Catholic in the developed world?

For parishioners at St. Patrick Catholic Church in North Park, California (a suburb of San Diego), the answer is “yes.” In response to the Holy Father’s call for “personal responsibility to care for creation,” the church has invested in solar arrays that generate enough power to make it energy self-sufficient. A solar shade structure, and a roof-mounted array, both feature Kyocera 123 modules. Local company Sullivan Solar Power did the work on the structures.

The church saw solar power as a viable alternative for a number of reasons. Faith, of course, came first: Father Michael McFadden, the priest at St. Patrick, notes “We have to work together so that it is a viable planet. I believe that God is saying, ‘Please take care of it. It’s fragile.” But, of course, the church and the school it run will save money on electricity in the long term. Furthermore, the solar arrays provide an educational resource for students at the parish school: Father McFadden added “The second reason solar made so much sense for us is that it will, in the short and long run, help the School and help the Parish, which I believe are joined at the hip.” Sullivan Solar will support these efforts, working specifically with the kindergarten class and middle school students to educate them about solar power.

Like most organizations, paying the utility bill serves a church’s mission, but it isn’t part of it. In the long run, St. Patrick should be able to shift resources that now keep the lights on to its various ministries.

Know of other churches – or congregations of other faiths – switching to clean power? Share their stories with us…

via Solar Power World and Sullivan Solar Power

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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at