There is the Sagrado Coração de Jesus fraternity in Petrópolis, Brazil. The first Franciscan friars arrived in this location in 1896. Today, it’s also called “Imperial City” since they came to give religious assistance to European immigrants, especially Germans. In addition to liturgical celebrations and other parish activities, the religious were involved in education, music, and graphic and editorial materials production. Furthermore, even today, the Franciscans choose this place for further study of theology. Therefore, it has the mission of welcoming, training friars, and also interacting intensively with various realities.
Currently, 39 friars reside on the site, interacting with other collaborators who frequent the convent space. Due to the large number of people circulating in the house, many concerns arise, one being with the ideal disposal of garbage. In 2017, although timidly, the fraternity practiced collecting and separating recyclable material as an internal service, trying to raise the environment and ecological awareness. Currently, most of the material already finds the appropriate destination, either for recycling or composting, to avoid disposal in the everyday garbage collection as much as possible.
There is an initiative that helped in the realization and expansion of this project. The local energy supply company receives recyclable material from its customers and gives discounts on the energy tariff according to its weight in return. From the beginning of this project until February 2020, 3.5 tons of recyclables were correctly separated and disposed of. In addition to not being erroneously disposed of, it entered the energy cycle again and generated small but meaningful savings in energy costs.
As the fraternity tried to expand the perspective of expense reduction and care of the common home, it is committed to making feasible the acquisition and implementation of a photovoltaic energy system installed in early 2020. Although the system’s cost is high for installation, it pays back from the long-term perspective. In this first semester, positive effects were evident from the moment of implementation, ensuring electricity generation in the total consumption of the fraternity’s needs (average consumption of 2567 KWh).
Given this, we realized that the fraternity managed to combine an economy (its expenses) with something that guarantees better use of natural resources for human life’s essential conditions. However, we know that the economic factor is not always coming along with initiatives considered “clean”, “renewable” or assertive for the environment’s care. That is the moment that the conscience of Franciscans for the care of common home must be seeking, above all, what is right, not the most economical.