Seek energy solutions at the environmental forum on Feast of St. Francis

William Patenaude

Dioceses and religious groups around the United States have increasingly been turning to solar energy, thanks to advances in technology and better financing. We’ve seen this just over the …

Dioceses and religious groups around the United States have increasingly been turning to solar energy, thanks to advances in technology and better financing. We’ve seen this just over the Massachusetts border where a sizeable solar farm is providing clean energy for the Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham.

More recently, a few pastors in the Diocese of Providence, like mine, are seeking solar solutions for their parish operations. And there is preliminary interest within other Catholic circles, too.

To begin explaining how solar energy can work at your parish or your home, the Diocese of Providence’s Office of Life and Family will be offering an environmental forum on Friday evening October 3 in honor of the Feast of St. Francis.

Chris Kearns of the state’s energy office will be there to give an overview of the how and what of better energy management, as well as the basics of using renewable energy.

Others may wish to join Julia Gold for her talk on the health impacts from what has been a century-long trend in warming temperatures. Julia is from the Department of Health. She works with others to help us all protect the vulnerable from weather extremes. Individuals and parishes all have their part to play, and Julia will help sort all that out.

As an added bonus, Tee Jay Boudreau of the Department of Environmental Management will be joining Julia to share news on funding and educational opportunities to help with planting trees. He’ll chat briefly on how tree cover can help keep us cool in warmer weather, while bringing with them all the other benefits that trees have been bringing to civilization since civilization began.

But wait, there’s more.

A third workshop will be on agriculture — the local variety. There’s lots going on at local farms. And tying into what’s happening may be easier than you think. Given the benefits of local agriculture, it makes sense to help our neighbors as they help build up the common good with the production of local dairy products, food, and other agricultural necessities.

The Feast of St. Francis Environmental Forum will offer much more than these three concurrent 40-minute workshops. The speaking program will begin with a keynote reflection on Christianity and ecology by Rev. Henry J. Bodah, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in South Kingstown. After all, it’s always good to put into context the practical aspects of ecology as they relate to the greater world of our faith.

And speaking of faith, the prelude of the forum will be a Transitus Service, which is held annually to recognize the passing of St. Francis. This will be offered by local lay Franciscans and Deacon John Fulton. It will take place during First Friday devotions and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. After the Transitus Service, devotions will conclude with Prayers to the Sacred Heart and benediction.

This diocesan evening of Catholic ecology will be held on October 3 at SS Rose and Clement Parish, 111 Long St., Warwick. Adoration will be taking place all afternoon; the Transitus Service begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by First Friday devotions and benediction at 7 p.m. The speaking program begins in the church hall at 7:30 p.m. and everything wraps up by 9 p.m. The entire evening is free and all are welcome to attend any portion they wish. While sponsored by the Church, it is open to all people of good will, from all faiths or no faith at all.

St. Francis would have wanted it that way.

For more information, call Paola Lois, the event coordinator at the diocese’s Office of Life and Family. Lois can be reached at 401-278-4500 or at