The St. Francis Friary in Zambia joins Holy Cross Retreat Center
As the Patron Saint of ecology, animals, and nature, St. Francis of Assisi praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God, understanding the connection we have with the earth and all living things. In November 2018, the Conventual Franciscan Friars of Our Lady of Consolation Province launched the Franciscan Earth Care Initiative as a public and spiritual commitment to modeling the Franciscan vision of environmental stewardship and sustainability. Thanks to our generous donors St. Francis Friary, in Zambia, joins Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, NM, and Mount Saint Francis Center for Spirituality in Mount St. Francis, IN, as the third major solar panel installation. These installations will allow our friars to become more self-reliant in the face of a critical national energy crisis. To see these installations and our other projects, follow the Franciscan Earth Care Initiative on Facebook and Twitter!
St. Francis Friary Solar Project
A True Ecological Gift!
by Friar Katongo L. Chilambwe OFM Conv.
St. Francis Friary in Zambia has been blessed with an invaluable Franciscan gift. Recently, the mission, through Our Lady of Consolation Province, received a generous donation with funds raised by Dr. Robert Barnet and his wife, Dr. Carol Taylor, for
the purchase and installment of a solar kit comprising of 36 solar panels, six inverters, and eight lithium batteries.
This gift comes at a time when Zambia is facing an unprecedented energy crisis as a result of decreased water levels at the central hydropower station at the Kariba dam, thus drastically affecting electricity generation. Zambia experienced the full impact of climate change in the form of drought in the 2018-2019 rainy season in most parts of the country, especially the southern region.
Due to overreliance on hydropower, the poor rains caused Zambia to incur an energy deficit of nearly 80% of electricity generation. As a result, the main power utility company has introduced rolling blackouts for long as 18 hours per day. However, in mitigating this energy crisis, the government is investing in several additional solar, hydro, and thermal power, which may be a long time coming.
St. Francis Friary has been adversely affected by constant and prolonged power cuts. Six hours of electricity per day, often in the middle of the night, left Zambia crippled. The mission has struggled to irrigate its vegetable gardens, water the lawn, and operate communication devices, among other activities. Not anymore!
“The newly installed solar equipment provides 24 hours supply of energy to the mission, thereby normalizing its day-to-day activities.”
Solar at the mission qualifies as a “true” Franciscan ecological gift, conscious of St. Francis’s care for the environment and wildlife. The friars at the mission engage in simple lifestyles that promote the integrity of creation and ultimate responsibility for
the earth or as Pope Francis refers to our “common home.” Part of the friar’s eco-conscious lifestyle is the keeping of chickens, goats, pigs, and (yet to be realized) fish farming. Another eco-driven initiative is the manufacturing of organic manure from animal
waste for growing vegetables.
Solar energy at the mission adds a more robust initiative of investing in renewable energy. Additionally, with the installed solar panels, the mission can cut costs of electricity, thereby increasing its support for the vulnerable people through both the Social Teacher program of Fr. Andrew and the student support program of Br. Tony.
Our solar program is a true Franciscan ecological gift. Moreover, it is an aid in living out our Franciscan ideal of sharing what we have. We send thanks to the OLC Mission Advancement Office and its generous donors for the donation of funds for solar equipment.