Tucson, Ariz. – The Benedictine Sanctuary is adorned with religious statuary and glows in the desert sun. A domed tower rises high above the sanctuary. It’s the very definition of a stately, Old World edifice.
The rows of solar panels a few feet away create a particularly interesting contrast between old and new.
Two long rows of panels parallel the monastery’s parking lot, providing power to the entire building, including the chapel and living quarters for more than 25 nuns.
Their power bills have been cut by as much as 80 percent, according to Sister Joan Ridley of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.
She seems an unlikely choice to serve as maintenance person for a large, old building. But it’s her job at the monastery, along with assisting the sanctuary prioress.
Listen to the story:
Not long ago, the nun couldn’t tell a thermostat from an air handler. She laughed quietly and said she learned with a bit of “screaming and fussing.”
Installing solar panels to cut energy usage and costs was, for the Benedictine Sanctuary, a wise economic decision. According to Sister Ridley, it was even more important spiritually.
Energy efficiency is essentially rooted in their religious tradition. The Benedictine Sisters believe that the ordinary is sacred.