ALTOONA, Iowa -- Easter Sunday isn't the only holiday that the Vatican wants you to celebrate this month.
Today Bishop Richard Pates announced a new initiative across all central Iowa parishes. The Diocese of Greater Des Moines wants all schools, churches and hospitals under its direction to install solar panels. The initiative was borne from a message from Pope Francis calling on all Catholics to be better stewards of the Earth and ensure they are making it better for the next generation by combating climate change.
Saint John the Apostle Church in Norwalk is already leading the way. The church installed a solar array last August and now gets about 40% of its energy from the sun. Bishop Pates says the project will save more than just the Earth.
"On the one hand we're doing something that we think is really morally imperative and important for everyone in terms of climate change," Pates says, "We're doing it in such a way that it won't be especially demanding of our parishes economically because we have a situation where there actually will be cost savings."
The project is made possible through a partnership with Red Lion Renewables in Norwalk and the national group Catholic Energies.