Sisters of St. Francis celebrate solar expansion

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - It's a dream years in the making, realized Wednesday by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross.

Outside the St. Francis Convent on Nicolet Drive in Green Bay, a blessing and dedication ceremony was held to complete a mission that began more than a decade ago.

"We had built a new motherhouse in 2004, and we started to realize that we were using a lot of energy because of the mechanical systems you need in a new building, so we wanted to reduce our use of electricity," says Sister Rose Jochmann.

In 2014, the sisters installed 416 solar panels on their property that provided 28 percent of the electricity used at the convent.

But their goal was more than 50 percent, and now, thanks to some renewable energy grants and donors, a new solar array will do just that.

Bishop David Ricken, who blessed the panels, is impressed by the collaborative effort.

"For-profits, not-for-profits, it's a community effort done with the leaderships of the Sisters and some generous donors, so it really to me, I'm learning a lot from what this type of technology can do to help us lessen our carbon footprint," says Bishop Ricken.

As followers of Saint Francis of Assisi, the sisters are committed to being good stewards of the earth and living a sustainable lifestyle.

"Pope Francis also is calling everyone to care for Creation, to save our natural resources, to be concerned about climate change and we're all kind of on the same page as the Pope in that area," says Sister Jochmann.

The convent's solar panel array is open for public viewing.

Self-guided tours are from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. Monday through Friday, from May to October.