Reston parish named ‘Cool Congregation’ for sustainability efforts

St. John Neumann Church in Reston recently was certified as a "Cool Congregation" by Interfaith Power and Light, a national nonprofit devoted to faith-based sustainability programs. Cool Congregations is a stewardship program helping congregations care for creation by reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

In response to "Laudato Si,' on Care for Our Common Home," St. John Neumann formed a new ministry, Care for Our Common Home, to continue the parish's ongoing sustainability efforts. St. John Neumann facility manager Mark Gosselin had implemented several energy-saving measures, and additional efforts reduced electricity use by 28 percent, greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent and annual fuel cost by about $15,000, according to a parish press release. The capital costs for the energy efficiency measures were recouped by energy savings within four years.

The Care for Our Common Home ministry applied for the Cool Congregations Award to highlight parish efforts and elements of Catholic social teaching and to encourage parishioners to be stewards of the environment in the parish and at home.

"As a Catholic parish, this is an excellent way for us to put our faith into action," said Oblate of St. Francis de Sales Father Thomas E. Murphy, former St. John Neumann pastor.

The new ministry also plans to create a space on parish grounds to promote a deeper appreciation for creation.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016