This past Thursday, clergy, activists, and other locals gathered on the roof of the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens building in Prospect Heights to announce the launch of a new sustainable energy initiative.
The initiative – titled the Laudato Si Corporation – was born out of recent messaging from Pope Francis encouraging the Catholic Church to tackle the climate crisis more directly.
In 2018, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and a delegation of other priests from the Brooklyn Diocese traveled to Rome where they met with the pope and discussed New York’s response to the issue.
Three years later and the Brooklyn Diocese in conjunction with Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens finally announced their plan. The Laudato Si Corporation will oversee a series of construction projects to provide renewable energy throughout the borough and city.
More specifically, the new projects are designed to make renewable energy cheaper and more accessible for local residents and landlords, nonprofit organizations, and church properties.
The buildings that Laudato Si currently has plans for are located in a variety of the city’s most historically underserved neighborhoods.
These include the the Bishop Thomas V. Daily Residence at 683 Dean Street in Prospect Heights, Our Lady of Fatima Senior Housing located at 78-01 30th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Howard Beach Apartments at 155-55 Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, and the Bishop Joseph Sullivan Residence at 800 Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
All of these properties include affordable housing units, but currently rely on the city’s larger energy grid.
“Pope Francis has said ‘God forgives all the time, people forgive some of the time, but nature never forgives,’” said DiMarzio. “We cannot destroy the nature that God has given to us. That is one of our responsibilities.
“Catholic Charities’ commitment to affordable housing rests upon the Church’s teaching and reflects the dignity of the human person and the value of the family,” he added. “And now the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens’ commitment to renewable energy reflects our commitment to the planet and our future.”
Reverend Patrick J. Keating echoed a similar sentiment.
“The initiative not only responds to Pope Francis’ encyclical [his call for a climate change response], but preserves affordable housing for low-income neighbors, reduces our carbon footprint, and our energy costs, all while leading the way in New York City,” he said. “This in turn, will allow Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens to invest capital savings into resiliency options and direct services for future generations.”
Catholic Charities has partnered with the energy companies Nixon Peabody, Bright Power, and the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center at Stonybrook University to help develop the technologies and sell energy to clients.
The funds generated through this program will be reinvested into future Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Laudato Si sustainability initiatives.