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Archdiocese of Chicago Announces its Shift to 100% Renewable Energy

Cardinal Cupich made the announcement on December 17, the 87th birthday of Pope Francis.

Chicago - (Dec. 17, 2023) – Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, today announced that the archdiocese, including its nearly 400 parishes and schools, and offices, will shift its entire electricity purchase to 100% renewable, effective in January 2024. This renewable energy purchase is the equivalent of removing 15,000 cars from the road annually, or the carbon emissions generated by 8,500 homes per year.

“From the early days of his papacy, Pope Francis has written and spoken on the environmental crisis facing our common home and the creatures that inhabit it, including human kind,” said Cardinal Cupich. “As his words delivered at COP28 reminded us, the future of us all depends on the present that we now choose. As an expression of our commitment to the sanctity of life, the Archdiocese of Chicago has chosen to do all we can to ensure generations to come have a future.”

The archdiocese’s latest energy initiative is the continuation of many years of work seeking ways to limit the impact of its operations on the environment. Many of its schools and other buildings have already taken steps. Notable among them is the cross-shaped solar installation at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein (USML), its seminary and graduate university. The only such installation at a U.S. seminary, the array is expected to produce the energy equivalent of about 215 tons of coal annually and to save approximately $1 million in utility costs over its lifespan.

“The solar array, installed three years ago has proved to be good investment and an excellent demonstration to our seminarians and the thousands of people who visit the grounds every year that care of our common home is a biblical responsibility,” said Very Reverend John Kartje, rector/president of USML. “Our seminarians come from 25 dioceses in the U.S. and abroad and we believe they will carry the commitment to good stewardship of the earth with them as they live out their vocations in the years ahead.”

“Along with our conversion to 100% renewable energy sources, we will facilitate energy audits for parishes and work with them to find ways to implement conservation projects,” said Eric Wollan, Archdiocese of Chicago chief capital assets officer. “Many parishes have already made progress and we will help facilitate and accelerate the funding and installation of energy-saving technology and practices.”

The words of the Holy Father compel us to make this change. He said “I am with you to raise the question which we must answer now: Are we working for a culture of life or a culture of death? To all of you I make this heartfelt appeal: Let us choose life! Let us choose the future! May we be attentive to the cry of the earth, may we hear the plea of the poor, may we be sensitive to the hopes of the young and the dreams of children! We have a grave responsibility: to ensure that they not be denied their future.”