A proud community gathered together in solidarity at St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School, Gwynneville on Monday 3 March, to celebrate the blessing of the school’s recently installed 42kW Solar Photovoltaic system.
Thanks to the outstanding fundraising efforts of the school community, St Brigid’s has now become the first virtually-electricity independent school in the Illawarra.
Twelve months in the making, the Climbing for the Sun project saw St Brigid’s parent Levi Gibson climb and summit Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, as part of a fundraising drive that raised more than $30,000. Dapto Leagues club provided $3,000 as the major sponsor, while local businesses, individuals and the St Brigid’s school community all contributed towards a staggering total of $33,600.
While the school will experience practical benefits by cutting electricity and reinvesting the estimated $12,000 savings back into school resources, a commitment to educate St Brigid’s students about the importance the Catholic faith places on protecting the environment was at the heart of the initiative.
St Brigid’s Principal, Kathy Uroda, said the instalment of the solar panels was both a sound economic decision and a practical expression of Pope Francis’s call for all Catholics to ‘care for our common home’.
“The project has ignited the local community around a positive environmental change, by taking responsibility for the care of our common home and each other,” said Ms Uroda. “It has been a great platform for us to stop and think about how we live on our planet and what St. Brigid’s can do in response to the environmental challenges our world faces. Students are gaining a deeper understanding of our school values of Stewardship and the cross-curriculum priority of sustainability. We couldn’t be happier.”
Following the 2015 release of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si’, Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong (CEDoW) introduced a system-wide approach across schools to promote ecological and sustainable practices and help educate students on the importance of caring for the environment and protecting the planet for future generations.
CEDoW Environmental Advocacy Professional Officer, Beth Riolo applauded the St Brigid’s school community for their ecological initiative to help 'care for our common home'.
“Pope Francis tells us, 'Truly, much can be done!' and I think this is well and truly exemplified by what the community at St Brigid's has done with the installation of solar panels on their school buildings,” said Ms Riolo. “Every positive action contributes, no matter how small or large, and the St Brigid's school community has come together in a significant way to 'care for our common home' and I congratulate everyone involved."