Living Laudato Si
(This article was originally published in This Good Work, found here)
by Mary Knapke
As part of the Congregation’s guiding principles, the Sisters of the Precious Blood cherish life in all of its manifestations — including continuing and expanding efforts regarding care of our endangered earth. This is our duty as Catholics and as religious women dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus, poured out for all people and the earth.
We look for ways to reduce our carbon footprint, notably with our buildings’ energy usage. Over the past several months, we worked with Melink Corporation — a Cincinnati-based clean-energy company — to establish solar arrays on two open grassy areas on our property in Dayton. “Rain, wind, cold days — those guys don’t mess around!” said Sister Patty Kremer, vice president of the Congregation. “Melink has worked diligently through all kinds of conditions for several months.” The two arrays being constructed could potentially produce up to 60% of the energy used at the four-story Salem Heights, our central house and our largest building.
In recent weeks, the company has erected the frames for the solar panels and installed hundreds of panels. The electrician has been conducting on-site assessments, and the Congregation looks forward to completion of the entire project, most likely in mid-May — just in time to celebrate Laudato Si Week.
Laudato Si Week, May 16-24, marks the fifth anniversary of the pope’s encyclical letter Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. “The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor cannot continue,” Pope Francis said in a video message announcing Laudato Si Week. “Let’s take care of creation, a gift of our good Creator God.”
When the arrays are completed, a pollinator prairie will be planted that will further enhance the ecological health of the property by increasing biodiversity and sequestering carbon in the soil and plant material.
In 2018, the Sisters of the Precious Blood were part of the inaugural group of Laudato Si community recipients in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The Congregation was recognized among 12 other parishes, congregations and organizations who demonstrated a commitment to sustainability and to engaging community members in creation care education.
In addition to the new solar array, the Congregation has made a number of recent changes in its practices and operations in order to reduce impact on the earth, including the installation of a geothermal energy system at the administrative offices and solar panels on three buildings.