One-third of the parishes, offices and facilities of the Diocese of Monterey have gone solar, and the counties of Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz now draw on 100 percent carbon and nuclear-free energy largely thanks to efforts of local Catholics.

The diocesan office and the late Bishop Richard Garcia led the way in union with the faithful in the effort. Now the office runs on 100 percent solar energy, while 18 of the 46 parishes and two of the 12 schools have made the move. More are in process.

Adding in the number of facilities that are preparing for the transition, about half of the diocese’s facilities will soon draw power from a renewable source.

Father Murrin of Boulder Creek’s St. Michael’s Parish, touched by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’, noted he was personally motivated by the realization that there is no single group that could make a more positive impact on the environment globally than the Catholic Church — if only for the number of buildings owned by the Church world-wide.

Beyond this Green Diocese, Green Parish solar initiative, Catholics in the Monterey Diocese were searching for more ways they could make a difference. Responding to this desire, the diocese began close collaboration with the Romero Institute — a nonprofit interfaith organization dealing with public policy — and its subsidiary Green Power to explore what could be done.

Simultaneously, three of the counties within the diocese were looking at launching Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs, allowing local communities the freedom to choose the sources of energy they purchase.

The collaboration between the diocese, the late Bishop Richard Garcia, the Romero Institute and Green Power proved a powerful force. With the clear and expressed support of their bishop, Catholics in the diocese were mobilized to act as crucial agents in community advocacy in the establishment of the local clean energy power company, Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP).

Full story at California Catholic Conference.