The 2014 Summit of Sustainability Awards

Winner, Nonprofit/Community Category: St. Hilary parish and School

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Shepherds of the environment

As a faith-based community, St. Hilary Parish members believe they are called on to take care of God’s creations.

It wasn’t until April 30, 2008, however, that St. Hilary Parish became aware of how much work was needed. The church hosted Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations, who spoke about “Climate Change: A Vision for the Common Good.”

The event sparked motivation for St. Hilary Parish members to do more. In the fall of that year, they formed the Creation Care Ministry, a volunteer-based ministry seeking to understand how their actions impact the world, both spiritually and environmentally.

The Creation Care Ministry is committed to achieving a sustainable campus. It believes in the importance of educating the parish community on environmental issues and opportunities to improve its environmental footprint.

The ministry understands that implementing sustainable change helps the environment as well as the parish. It works to improve its plans in energy management, water management, waste management and other areas.

It’s also spreading the word to future generations by ensuring each student recycles his or her lunch waste daily and by including paper recycle bins in each classroom.

This past year, the team reached its halfway goal of an 80 percent reduction in solid waste and now has an annual $12,000 reduction in its trash pickup bills. Since 2008, the parish has recycled more than 438 tons of paper.

With 7,488 members, 611 students and 98 employees, everyone is involved in the parish’s sustainability efforts, embracing their responsibility of being stewards of the earth they were graciously given.