World’s 1st Catholic diocese to go full solar is in Leyte, Philippines

World's first Roman Catholic diocese
Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral in Maasin City. Photo from CBCP News.

The world’s first Roman Catholic diocese to go full solar is in Maasin, Leyte in the Philippines.

The Vatican in Rome commended the Southern Leyte Diocese of Maasin for becoming the first diocese in the entire Catholic Church to adopt renewable energy.

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“The Diocese of Maasin, in the Philippines, has become the first diocese in the world to equip all parishes with solar panels,” Vatican officials said in a document on ecology released on June 18, 2020.

The document titled “Journeying for the care of the common home – five years after Laudato si’” noted how the Maasin Diocese has installed solar panels to generate electricity in all of its 42 churches.

WeGen Laudato Si’ (WGLS), a Philippine-based next-generation technology company, partnered with the Maasin Diocese in the solar energy project.

“I am surprised to know that our humble effort to implement something to preserve our Mother Earth, heeding the call of Pope Francis’ Laudato si’ Encyclical letter, got recognition and affirmation at a high level,” Bishop Precioso Cantillas of Maasin was quoted by Vatican News to have said regarding the Vatican citation.

Bishop Cantillas shared that the solar panels installed in the cathedral and school buildings have saved the diocese more than Php100,000 in electricity bills per month.

WeGen says the lifespan of the solar panels is up to 25 years and that investment can be recovered in seven years.

“With those solar panels in place for 25 years, some 1,875 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions are avoided,” a WeGen representative told reporters.

Solar energy has been harnessed in many areas in the Philippines such as the Romblon solar power plant that provides electricity for thousands of households and a solar-powered irrigation system being maintained by Abra farmers.

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