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Insights: Clean Energy in Monterey; Advocacy Day Bills Announced

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March 22, 2019

Laudato si’ Sparks Clean Energy in CA’s Monterey Diocese

One-third of the parishes, offices and facilities of the Diocese of Monterey have gone solar, and the counties of Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz now draw on 100 percent carbon and nuclear-free energy largely thanks to efforts of local Catholics.

The diocesan office and the late Bishop Richard Garcia led the way in union with the faithful in the effort. Now the office runs on 100 percent solar energy, while 18 of the 46 parishes and two of the 12 schools have made the move. More are in process.

Adding in the number of facilities that are preparing for the transition, about half of the diocese’s facilities will soon draw power from a renewable source.

The diocesan Office of Social Concerns, collaborating with local solar companies and consultants, devised a way that parishes could go solar with little overhead risk.

The diocese offers low-interest loans to parishes for the necessary equipment and installation. Parishes begin to save as soon as the equipment becomes operational since the savings on utility bills exceed loan payments.

Father Murrin of Boulder Creek’s St. Michael’s Parish, touched by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’, noted he was personally motivated by the realization that there is no single group that could make a more positive impact on the environment globally than the Catholic Church — if only for the number of buildings owned by the Church worldwide. St. Michael’s Parish responded quickly becoming a model parish for the Green Diocese, Green Parish project.

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Echoes of an Empty Death Chamber - What Is It Telling Us?

Fr. Stephen Barber, S.J., served in the chaplain’s office of San Quentin State Prison from 1996 to 2011, the last eight years as the full-time pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel on the prison grounds.  He served at San Quentin during the last three executions in California.  He is now Director of Cura Personalis, at Loyola High School, Los Angeles, and a minister to the Jesuit community at the school.   In light of the death penalty moratorium announced by Governor Gavin Newsom last week, Fr. Barber offers the following reflection:

Robin Samsoe, age 12. Marcella Davis, age seven. Samantha Runnion, age five. Gregory Gabriel, age 12. Ernesto Esquivel, age five. Guadalupe “Lupita” Esquivel, age two. Sophia Acosta, age three. 

Any discussion of the death penalty in California, or in any jurisdiction in the United States, must begin with a mention, by name, of those whose lives were taken far too soon.  Those souls named above are but a fraction of the murder victims whose lives intersected with men currently living in San Quentin State Prison, condemned to death. By extension are included the families and loved ones they left behind:  mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents and caregivers. Governor Gavin Newsom, by virtue of the authority he enjoys as Governor of California, placed a “moratorium” on the process of executions at San Quentin.  His declaration, an act of stunning moral and spiritual clarity, took many by surprise. 

For more than a decade, I worked at San Quentin State Prison as Catholic Chaplain.  The work and ministry there as a priest included every member of the condemned population, the correctional staff, and administration.  

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Catholic Advocacy Day Bills Announced

Save the date! This year’s Catholic Advocacy Day at the California State Capitol will take place on Tuesday, April 30 and the chosen bills highlight this year’s theme: Serving the Poor, Lifting Up Families.

2019 Advocacy Day bills include:

  • SB 456 (Aruchuleta, D – Pico Rivera) would provide protections for places of worship or other faith-based organization from disclosing personal information of volunteers to a third party without a court-issued subpoena, warrant or order.
  • SB 298 (Caballero, D – Salinas) would commit the Legislature to a goal of reducing childhood poverty by 50 percent by 2039 and provide a framework of research-backed solutions to achieve it.
  • AB 809 (Santiago, D – Los Angeles) would spotlight a Title IX protection that would help inform pregnant and parenting students about their rights on college campuses.
  • A Budget Request (Portantino, D – La Canada Flintridge) that would allow new teachers an individual tax deduction for professional development expenses to fulfill the requirements for California credential programs.

Stay tuned for more information on Catholic Advocacy Day and how you can participate.


Restorative Justice Internship Opportunity

The California Catholic Conference is currently seeking an intern in the Office of Restorative Justice in Sacramento.

This position is responsible for helping build our restorative justice network, and actively building relationships with diocesan offices and the Restorative Justice Community. This person will also assist with reporting for our national strategic Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) grant as well as be responsible for active and creative social media posts for restorative justice projects.

A mandatory, all-expenses paid orientation training with the National CCHD office in Washington will take place May 29 – May 31, 2019.

Click here or contact Debbie McDermott at


Visit the CCC at RE Congress This Weekend

Join the California Catholic Conference this weekend at booth 465 at the 2019 Religious Education Congress!  We will be right next to the Restorative Justice booth (#467) highlighting chaplains’ activities in California prisons and jails.

More than 40,000 Catholics from around the world are expected to descend on the Anaheim Convention Center this weekend for the event, which commences with Youth Day on Thursday, March 21 and runs through Sunday, March 24. Numerous workshops, book signings, and liturgical events will take place over the course of the four days. Click here for a schedule of events.

If you are attending, head over to booth 465 to meet CCC staff and learn about the issues we cover, share your own ideas with us, and learn what you can do to make a difference policy-wise in California. We can’t wait to visit with you!


Unplanned, a movie examining the journey of a Planned Parenthood director to a pro-life ‘conversion, is opening in theaters this weekend.  You can find local showings at this website.

March 22, 2019
Vol. 12, No. 9

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