Sustainable Energy Initiative

We are excited to announce that Holy Wisdom Monastery is journeying toward an important milestone in our mission to care for the earth.

For years, the sisters at Holy Wisdom Monastery have envisioned a net-zero future. Now, a major milestone is in reach: by the end of 2024, Holy Wisdom Monastery will produce 100% of our energy needs onsite from renewable resources. This will make Holy Wisdom the first net-zero retreat center in Wisconsin!

The net-zero energy initiative will be accomplished in three phases. The first phase is the installation of a 300-kilowatt, ground-mounted solar array and then interconnection of the array to the electrical grid. The second phase will be the installation of a battery storage system that can store excess electrical production for later use by the monastery. The third phase is the removal of an old, natural gas-fired HVAC system from the monastery’s Retreat & Guest House and replacement with a sustainable geothermal well system.

Support the Net-zero Initiative

Learn more about how the monastery will become a net-zero refuge by viewing a recording of the net-zero webinar that took place on Nov. 16, 2023.

Watch the Virtual Info Session

A Changing Landscape

If you’ve been to Holy Wisdom Monastery lately, you may have spotted a new field of ground solar panels, behind the Retreat and Guest House and adjacent to Lost Lake. The solar panels were financed by a third-party investor. The hope is to have these panels connected to the grid by the end of the year.

A Net-zero Future

Prompted by the need to replace a failing gas boiler in the Retreat and Guest House, we are working with experts to implement geothermal wells, solar photovoltaic arrays and a battery energy storage system.

More than $2.2 million for this project has already been funded through grants and incentives. Please consider a gift to help us fund the final $890,000 and care for the earth.

Do you have questions? Please contact Lara Dulin Perez at or 608-836-1631, x120.

We need your help!

We invite you to consider a generous gift to this important sustainable energy initiative. Your local gift can have a global impact! Please choose Sustainable Energy Initiative from the drop-down menu in the giving form below. Thank you.

History of Caring for the Earth at Holy Wisdom Monastery

For 70 years, the Benedictine Sisters at Holy Wisdom Monastery have paid attention to the needs of the earth, nurturing 130 acres of what was once farmland into a blossoming prairie and refuge for wildlife. Today, when climate change weighs on the hearts of so many, the sisters offer their prairie to all as a place where we might heal, reconnect, and remember what can be restored.

 1953:  Sisters arrive in Madison and climb to the top of what they now call “God’s Hill” located at Holy Wisdom Monastery

 1950s:  Trees planted on grounds

 1960s:  Ended some of the farming on land and started the return to a pre-settlement condition

 1970s:  Conservation practices include contouring and planting of grass waterways in the areas still farmed

 1980s:  Conversion of highly erodible hillsides to woodland and savanna areas using the government Conservation Reserve Programs; started holding volunteer workdays

 1990s:  First master plan for the monastery grounds completed; restored Lost Lake to original size; built detention basin, started planting prairie

 2000s:  Restored over 100 acres of prairie; built one of the ‘greenest’ buildings in the country

 2010s:  Became MG&E’s largest solar customer; successfully completed $1.9 million Wisdom Prairie Project to acquire and start restoring 53 acres of farmland into native prairie and oak savanna; created Friends of Wisdom Prairie group to support environmental efforts through bimonthly workdays and educational outings, dinner lectures and grounds tours; removed hedgerows as a first step to creating an oak savanna; received international Assisi Award in 2017 for more than 60 years of environmental work from the Society for Conservation Biology.