success stories

A Success Story in Stewardship of God's Gift of Sun to Us

Cardinal Mahony unveils solar power system at new cathedral
By Maria Luisa Torres
Catholic News Service

As Southern California's brilliant summer sun illuminated the outdoor plaza at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles Aug. 15, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and local civic and religious leaders announced the installation of energy-saving solar panels at the new cathedral as part of a joint "commitment to environmental stewardship."

"I am both pleased and proud that our new cathedral is the first religious building in our city to become solar-power friendly," said Cardinal Mahony at the midday press conference. "Southern California is blessed with an abundance of sunlight and we are here today to celebrate the creative and responsible use of this great gift.

"In the new cathedral, light becomes a beautiful symbol of the transcendent," he continued. "In a wonderfully different way, these solar panels will transform the gift of light into a clean and renewable source of energy."

Located on the roof of the cathedral's conference center, the intricate $600,000 solar panel system will generate between 10 and 15 percent of the total energy needed for the complex -- equivalent to the amount of energy required for 66 homes.

The 66-kilowatt system was established in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power via its "solar buy-down" program, which covers a percentage of installation costs for both business and residential customers.

The cardinal is also partnering with the Los Angeles Interfaith Environmental Council for "Green Eternal Light," a citywide interfaith program aimed at encouraging local religious institutions to "repair, protect and preserve our environment" through solar power, conservation efforts and other means.

"It is my hope that this partnership between the Department of Water and Power and the Interfaith Environmental Council will encourage the creation of similar 'green sanctuaries' throughout our city," said Cardinal Mahony.

"This is an ideal partnership between the public and private sectors, between religious (and secular) communities; it will prove beneficial for all," said Los Angeles City Councilmember Jan Perry. "This cathedral is for all -- for anyone and everyone who wants to bask in the spiritual presence that the cathedral has brought to our city."

According to Perry, the cathedral will not only serve as a "spiritual landmark," but will also set an ecological standard for others to follow. By installing the solar panels, she noted, the archdiocese is demonstrating its "long-term commitment to the preservation of our environment for future Los Angelenos."

Lee H. Wallach, co-chairman of the Los Angeles Interfaith Environmental Council and board member of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, agreed.

"By embracing renewable energy in such a proactive and comprehensive manner, the cardinal is not only sustaining a healthy environment and quality of life for our children and grandchildren, he is also establishing the moral compass for the rest of the nation by setting this extraordinary example," said Wallach.

As human beings, all are "stewards of God's creation," said Cardinal Mahony. As such, all "stand as part of -- not apart from -- our environment."

"As stewards, we are entrusted with its care -- and how we care for God's creation also says something about the way we relate to our fellow human beings," he said. "Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, recently highlighted this relationship, observing that, 'When one separates from God's plan for creation, very often attention for one's brothers and sisters and respect for the environment are lessened.'"