St. John Neumann Catholic Community

Reston, VA

In response to the stewardship messages in the Pope’s recent encyclical, Laudato ‘Si, a team of parishioners formed a new ministry, Care for Our Common Home. They were impressed by the effect of several energy saving measures which had been implemented by Mark Gosselin, SJN’s Facility Manager. An energy audit identified several opportunities to reduce energy consumption. Implementing these measures reduced electricity use by 28%, greenhouse gas emissions by 29% and annual fuel cost by about $15,000. The capital costs for these energy efficiency measures were recouped by energy savings within four years.


The team applied for the Cool Congregations Award to showcase to the congregation the effect of a few practices, such as switching to LED bulbs and adjusting the air handling components. The hope is to stimulate parish learning about energy efficiency measures – in both the parish and at home. The Certification will also be a way to publicize and promote the stewardship elements that are part of Catholic Social teaching.


Speaking about the project and the award, previous pastor, Father Tom Murphy said, “As a Catholic parish, this is an excellent way for us to put our faith into action. Our parish team has reduced its energy consumption, devoted funds to more meaningful uses, and shrunk our carbon footprint. I congratulate the entire parish team for its good work and its well-deserved recognition.”


The new ministry is now looking into creating a sacred space on the parish grounds to allow a deeper appreciation of the gift of creation. Other worship, education, advocacy, and sustainability activities are being planned to put the message of Laudato Si’ into action.


Father Tom Murphy, previous pastor and Mark Gosselin, Facility Manager at St. John Neumann holding Cool Congregation Certificate from Interfaith Power & Light. (Photo by Janet Broderick)



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