St. Brigid’s Catholic Church has been cultivating a lighter ecological footprint for many years.
Parishioners practice waste reduction, composting and conservation. They welcome diverse members of the neighborhood and take care of the hungry and homeless through their numerous programs.
That’s why this inclusive, compassionate parish, situated in Toronto’s Danforth area since 1927, was selected by Faith & the Common Good (FCG) to receive a Green Sacred Spaces Award. This annual award recognizes faith groups that have achieved excellence in greening their places of worship as well as engaging the broader community in the care of the environment.
FCG Deputy Director, Rev. Michelle Singh, presented the award at St. Brigid’s annual Pastoral Assembly on September 8th. The hall was filled to capacity for the morning Mass which was conducted in both English and Italian to support their intergenerational congregation. It was also the day of their annual picnic, “so I had an opportunity to spend time with and speak to several members who shared that the changes at St. Brigid’s made them think about the changes they can make in their own homes,” says Michelle.
Unafraid of trying out new things to improve and advance their sustainability goals, St. Brigid's was the very first congregation to sign up for FCG’s energy benchmarking program for faith buildings.
“As a result of the benchmarking program, we are able to better understand our energy consumption trending over the past four years,” says Father Carlos Sierra, who accepted the award on behalf of the congregation. “We hope to continue to reduce our building energy footprint, by striving to conserve energy in the future."
Donna Lang, Toronto Animator, has been working with St. Brigid's for the past seven years. She recalls being very grateful that they allowed themselves to be “guinea pigs” at the time of the launch of the energy benchmarking program. On sending the first baseline report to Father Carlos and Chair of St. Brigid’s Pastoral Council, Brian Dwyer, in January 2018, “they made some excellent suggestions as to how to improve the readability and comprehension of the report writing,” she says. “It is this type of human kindness and consideration that allows for the launch of a successful program, with the least amount of discomfort."
As well, Donna expresses appreciation for St. Brigid's in helping her reach out to the Catholic faith segment. St. Brigid's held an Environmental meeting back in 2014, and invited all Catholic parishes in Toronto. Toronto Hydro and Enbridge energy efficiency incentives were discussed and St. Brigid's presented their greening story to the parishes that attended. St. Brigid's also reached out to Donna in November 2017, at the inception of the benchmarking program and asked her to outline the benchmarking program at a meeting, held at St. Patrick’s Parish in Toronto.
“We were able to lead the way for other faith communities to come on board,” concludes Father Carlos.
Congratulations to the St. Brigid’s community for being an inspiration to others and doing their part to ensure a healthier, climate future for all.