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Immaculate Conception Church on a Solar-Powered Mission

Solar panels provide energy for Immaculate Conception Church. Photo courtesy of Rev. John Grace

When Rev. John Grace and his team at Immaculate Conception Church see an opportunity to do good, they seize it. Last summer, the church saw a moment to do just that. Determined to cut their carbon footprint and ultimately costs, the Church transitioned to solar energy, installing 440 solar panels on the roof of their building complex. 

Grounded in a desire to do good, this massive undertaking has saved the church thousands of dollars that can now be given back into the community. Doing what you can to positively impact God’s Earth is considered an integral part of the Catholic faith and has been a point of emphasis in recent years. This principle was highlighted through Pope Francis’ 2015 ecological encyclical letter, emphasizing the importance of doing what you can to care for creation: “We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.”

The letter served as a call to action and rejuvenated the topic of caring for the Earth. In line with the pope’s encyclical, the Immaculate Conception Church initiated a partnership with the Catholic Climate Covenant, a nonprofit based in Washington D.C. committed to helping assist parishes with issues of the climate. Through this partnership, they acquired the means necessary to provide clean energy to their church building.    

Doing what is right for the environment as an act of worship is something that Rev. John Grace believes to be integral to one’s faith. The Catholic faith encourages everyone to do good for their environment and views sustainable practices as reflections of God’s love for creation.

Rev. John Grace among 440 solar panels on the roof of Immaculate Conception Church. Photo courtesy of Rev. John Grace

Immaculate Conception Church is the first parish in the Diocese of Richmond to initiate a transition to solar energy. Rev. John and his team took the Pope’s advice and put it into practice, establishing a new standard for their community. And it doesn’t stop there. They continue to promote sustainable practices through actions like serving fair-trade coffee and minimizing their use of paper products.

Through their efforts, Rev. John and his team have inspired sustainability practices in those around them. In an excerpt for The Virginia Pilot, he reported that parishioners are now looking to take on new projects and will be soon working with African farmers to offset their carbon emissions. “Hope is not a one-off. It multiplies! May each of us do what we can to restore a little bit of hope in our neighborhood, in our corner of the city, in our common home.”  

It is amazing the power of action. By making the conscious effort to protect God’s beautiful creation, Rev. John Grace and the Immaculate Conception Church have given those around them hope for an eco-friendly future. 

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