Carmelite Father Michael Kwiecien and Erica Kudyba, members of the St. Teresa of Avila Parish “green team,” are pictured next to the solar power inverter which displays the power coming from the parish’s solar power system and that is
Parish ‘green teams’ grew in 2016
December 13th, 2016
By Christina Gray
Only eight months after the Archdiocese of San Francisco launched a major “Laudato Si’” initiative on April 23 at the urging of Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, several parishes have taken steps to heed what Pope Francis called in his encyclical “the cry of the earth, the cry of the poor.”
“We are beginning to find local actions that respond to Pope Francis’ call,” said Stephen Miller, chair of the St. Teresa of Avila Parish “green team” and a member of the archdiocese’s Care for Creation Council.
Catholic San Francisco reached out to members of each parish “green team” with a letter on Dec. 1 asking for detailed reports of their progress this year. Following is a summary of the efforts available to the paper as we went to press on Dec. 12.
St. Anselm Parish, Ross
Team members are Maureen Bennett; Margy Sheehy; Cathy Cunningham; Mo Dear; Niall Durkin; Jim Farley; Daly Schreck, Hasan Sume; Father Jose Shaji, pastor.
The involvement of Father Jose Shaji, pastor, as part of the green team seems to have accelerated the progress at St. Anselm, which held a “Care for Creation Mass” with school participation in October, conducted a lighting audit of all parish buildings, formed a task force of conservation-savvy parishioners and school parents, introduced the use of reusable and/or compostable cups, dishes and utensils at parish events and sold copies of “Laudato Si’” after Mass. Liturgies now include creation-conscious intercessory prayer intentions and the bulletin includes tips to help parishioners make more environmentally sustainable decisions in their daily lives. Families are encouraged to walk together to Mass or ride bikes and recently installed a bike rack for that purpose. A water-use audit was conducted in early December and an investigation into converting to solar power will follow.
St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Burlingame
Team members are Margit Caulfield; Irene Donner; Silvia Chiesa; Claire Pape; Marlin Ang; Susan Dirksen.
“It seemed like the beginning was awkward and slow,” said Caulfield, “but I think we’ve accomplished a lot in a few months.” The parish began by registering their team with the Catholic Climate Covenant, which offers resources and how-to materials for registered Creation Care Teams that help them put their plans into action. Some of those actions include members attending CCC seminars, starting a weekly column in the Sunday bulletin and measuring parish energy consumption and waste generation to uncover areas to work on. Some members have joined local organizations and programs such as the Burlingame Citizens Environmental Council and the San Mateo County Household Hazardous Waste Program in order to report back to the team with information they can share.
St. Rita Parish Green Team, Fairfax
Team members are Father Ken Weare, pastor; Dolores Stoll; Sara Steck; Rose Milani; Yvette Armendariz, Elva McGuinness.
Sustainability has been second nature at St. Rita for an amazing seven years, so many of the following accomplishments are not new, but notable.
St. Rita recycles or composts just about anything and everything that is recyclable or compostable. That includes not only the standard metal, glass, newspaper, office paper, newspaper and plastic items but also things like votive candle holders, bulletins, music and missalette books, wine bottles, food packaging, candles, greenery and altar flowers and food waste.
Hospitality events use real plates, cutlery, cups and glasses whenever possible or otherwise compostable items. The parish replaced all of its lighting with energy-efficient halogen bulbs or LED lights and candles and installed energy efficient appliances and low-flush and -flow toilets.
Father Weare said the messages of “Laudato Si’” are integrated into the liturgy and are a focus of spiritual development for parishioners. The parish holds a one-day spiritual retreat for parishioners and local community on “Laudato Si’” as well as adult education seminars and workshops. Caring for creation is included in formal prayers, the prayers of the faithful, the homily, music selections and more.
St. Teresa of Avila Green Team, San Francisco
Team members are Stephen Miller; Gail Kendall, Father Michael Kwiecien; Deacon Charles Allen; Erica Kudyba; John Van Hagen; Father Michael Greenwell.
Team members Gail Kendall and Stephen Miller, who each have profesSional expertise in sustainability projects, have provided invaluable leadership on the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s “Laudato Si’” effort as they and their team made great strides this year at St. Teresa.
The parish went solar on Nov. 30. The priory (the building housing the parish offices and the residence of the two Carmelite priests who staff the parish) was outfitted with solar panels.
After reviewing the parish’s electric bill over the past three years, the parish green team made the case to the pastor, parish council and finance committee that going solar would save money, as well as be helpful ecologically. Various companies were contacted and proposals came in and advice was also sought from the archdiocese.
The accepted contract promised an estimated savings of $244 per month, or about $3,000 per year. Sungevity was chosen and the project began in June. The 25 solar panels “float” on the rooftop and are held down by heavy brick blocks.
The cost for the project was $25,000, which will be paid in four installments and can be recouped after about eight years.
“It was helpful to have one person, in this case Deacon Chuck Allen, monitor the project from start to finish,” team member John Van Hagen said. He coordinated the scheduling of inspections and kept the staff aware of the progress.
From December 15, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.