For some time now, you probably have noticed workers on the roof of our church and may have wondered what’s happening there. We are going solar! Looking at our financials, I had realized that one of the important areas where we could save a lot of money was how we obtain our electricity. Hence, I initiated the process to go solar in the summer of 2020, but it was very time-consuming with proposals from various solar companies to be submitted to the Diocese, followed by approval, inspections, and other protocols. The project was entrusted to the “Amped on Solar” company whose CEO Mr. Luke Uzupis has been meticulously following up with the time-consuming process for going solar. As per the agreement, the solar company provided us with a new roof, both for the church and the school, free of cost. And now we are entering the final phase of installing the solar panels which is what you see happening on the roof, supervised by Mr. Mark Onori, the Vice President of Project Management for Amped On Solar. Mr. Uzupis, who is implementing this project, deserves our deep appreciation for moving it forward at record time despite many obstacles caused by the pandemic, the weather, supply chain hold ups and bureaucratic delays. Our hope is to go solar in May/June this year. I am truly grateful to Most Rev. James Checchio, our Bishop, Msgr. Joseph Celano, the Episcopal Vicar for Administration, Mr. Steve Michalek, the diocesan director of the Office of Properties and Facilities, Mary Pat Burke-Grospin, Trish Stumper and many others who in one way or another were and are instrumental in making this wonderful project move forward.
We all know that solar power offers cost savings, reduces carbon footprint and produces significant profits over the long run. Besides these advantages, going solar is one of the ways of responding to the challenge that Pope Francis has given in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ motivating us to address environmental issues. He wrote about the urgent need “to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy. Worldwide there is minimal access to clean and renewable energy.” (no.26) Yes, we can be proud that we are one of the pioneering parishes in our diocese to respond to this urgent need to care for the earth, our home.
On another note: This Friday, March 17, is the feast of St. Patrick, “when everyone is Irish!” While indulging in corned beef and cabbage, Guinness, et. al., the church invites us to focus on the missionary nature of the life of St. Patrick who converted the Irish population to Catholicism in his 33 years of apostolate there. The Irish rightly brought his legacy to places they have settled.
This Saturday, March 19, is the feast of St. Joseph – a big Feast especially for Italians because in the Middle Ages, God, through St. Joseph’s intercessions, saved the Sicilians from a very serious drought. So in his honor, the custom has been for all to wear red, in the same way that green is worn on St. Patrick’s Day. Blessing of food (“la tavola di San Giuse” or “St. Joseph’s Table”) is a popular practice for Italian Catholics.
Happy Feast of St. Patrick! Happy Feast of St. Joseph!
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal