St John Bosco Roman Catholic Church

Fr Chris Whelan blesses the newly installed panels!

The installation of sixteen solar panels, low energy light bulbs and an energy efficient boiler was part of the process to become an LiveSimply awarded parish. This award is coordinated by Eco-congregation, on behalf of CAFOD (Catholic Action for Overseas Development).  Read more about it here.

Our solar panels provide green energy to the grid, an incentive bonus from the Government for 25 years and will pay for themselves within ten years. Our award was presented by CAFOD Director, Chris Bain on 16 September 2012.

Work towards the award started in 2008 before we knew about it! We campaigned on climate justice, fair trade and hunger. Also, our church needed rewiring and our boiler broke down. After discovering the LiveSimply campaign, we tried to identify a total of at least nine actions under three sections:

Living Simply
Living Sustainably
Living in Solidarity with the Poor

and worked on these.

For the CAFOD postcard campaigns , a talk was given at the end of Mass to explain why it was important for parishioners to sign the postcards. We tried to raise awareness of issues in our newsletter and suggest activities in which parishioners could take part e.g. marches on climate justice; meeting our MP about world hunger; collections for Reading drop in centre for the homeless and the local food bank; food growing; walks, prayers and reflections in a local wood; walking to church; litterpicking; recycling and hunger lunches for which money is donated to charities. In worship, we have a bidding prayer for the environment or for our efforts to live simply on the first Sunday of each month as well as an annual Creation Mass in September.

We are a qualified fair trade parish and have had a fair trade stall for many years. We support a poor town and orphanage in Romania, CAFOD fast days and Christian Aid Week. An invitation to all parishioners giving examples of actions they could take resulted in 25 individual pledges. Some people are wary of making New Year’s Resolutions they won’t keep. However, we encouraged people to believe that small steps taken by individuals would have an impact.

We managed to meet a lot of challenges by working together. E.g. the church flower arrangers got a compost bin for the disposal of spent flowers, Senior Citizens knitted hats and scarves for Romania and the prayer group said special prayers for the environment and those affected by climate change. One of our failures was getting parishioners to pool cars to come to church. We will try this again using a method from the Hampshire Downs parish.

The LiveSimply Award is intended as recognition that we are striving for a more modest lifestyle and a fairer society and is meant to be an encouragement to continue our efforts. We are giving a lot of thought as to how we can reawaken enthusiasm and are very receptive to new ideas. In the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero
“We may never see the end results but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own.”

Find out more about our work for the LiveSimply award.

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