Solar Panels at the Catholic Worker

Emily Clements

Clements Ourladyoftheroad

Our Lady of the Road (OLR) is a laundromat café in downtown South Bend that is run by the St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker and open to the community. People are invited to come in and have breakfast and coffee, get their laundry done, take a shower and get clothes.

I had the opportunity to spend the summer after my sophomore year living in that community and working at OLR. Part of the charisma of the Catholic Worker movement is a return to the land and a more intentional caring for God’s creation, so sustainability is a focus of the ministry. Unfortunately, the main source of Indiana’s electricity is coal and Our Lady of the Road requires a large amount of energy to operate.

For my project, I worked with my advisor to design a solar array, and the William Jordan’s Let’s Share the Sun Foundation will help us implement that array on the roof. To be able to have the array installed, I've spoken with different companies, explaining the mission of OLR and asking for donations of solar panels. I have also reached out to Notre Dame alumni who are interested in supporting this project. By having the solar array installed, OLR will be able to get electricity from sources that align with its values.

I'm grateful to a great many people for their help on this project, but I'd especially like to thank Bill Jordan, Tim Powers, Kevin Walsh, Greg Kil, Roy Anderson, Jusong Wang, and Leah Thill for their expertise and assistance.