In my twenty-three years of being a priest, I have been stationed at eight different parishes throughout theArchdiocese: five as a parochial vicar and three as pastor. In all of my priestly assignments – except Saint John’s – the parish Church had bells, whether manual or an automatic carillon bell system. As simple as it may seem, the ringing of Church bells – to announce the hour or call the faithful to Mass, helps to remind those who hear the bells of the unique, sacred presence of the Lord found in the parish setting.
Church bells have been around since the fth century and were in common usage in the Middle Ages. They were particularly used by monastic communities to call the monks, who during the day were in various places in the monastery, to gather for prayer in the chapel. Later on, the custom became more common in parish churches and the bells were used to call the people to the celebration of Mass as well as the recitation of the Angelus prayer throughout the day.
The Roman Ritual (the guidelines set forth by the Church for the celebration of the Sacraments) provide a very solemn blessing of church bells and it speaks of the wonderful, spiritual symbolism and sacramental power that Church bells possess.
I recently contacted a company here in Bucks County that specializes in Church carillon bell systems. A salesman came out to assess our Church and recommended a system that could work in our Parish. The system itself will cost thirteen thousand dollars, with an additional three thousand dollars for installation in our Church.
I also contacted Lower Makefield Township to make sure that a carillon bell system would not violate any noise ordinances; they assured me that a carillon bell system would not violate any noise ordinances, providing that it does not ring before seven o’clock in the morning, nor after ten o’clock in the evening. If we are able to move forward with a carillon bell system in our Church, it would first ring to call us to the 8:00 AM morning Mass, Monday through Saturday; it would announce each hour of the day, with the Angelus rung at twelve Noon and six o’clock in the evening; and would ring the last hour at 9:00 PM each evening. On Sundays, it would first ring ten minutes before each of our Sunday Masses, as well as each hour of the day, including the six o’clock Angelus on Sunday evening.
Several members of our Parish Pastoral Council have told me that our Church previously had a carillon bell system that fell into disuse many years ago; the system itself has disappeared from the property and no one seems to know where it went or how it was disposed.
I am hoping that many members of our Parish share my desire to reintroduce bells to our Church.
I recently spoke to our Knights of Columbus Saint John The Evangelist Council, and they have generously agreed to pledge ten percent of the cost of the carillon bell system for our Parish – twelve hundred dollars. With ten percent of the cost of the system pledged, I am hoping parishioners will be willing to offer donations to make a carillon bell system a reality for our Parish.
My hope is to have the system in place to ‘ring’ for our first Mass on Christmas Eve, which is only two months away! We need a month to place the order for the system, and a week or so for its installation. So, time is of the essence. If we can reach our goal of fteen thousand dollars in donations by Sunday, November 26th, we can have our bell system in place for Christmas Eve.
Any parishioner who would like to join in this endeavor and bring Church bells back to our Parish, and is willing to donate to our bell campaign is asked to complete the form below. Any donations will be credited to your parish donations. The more parishioners who are able to join in our campaign will make “Christmas Bells” a reality and a welcome presence to our Parish. I will also publish in the bulletin the names and donations of each gift, so we can see how close we are to having the system in place for Christmas.
Through the intercession of Saint John the Evangelist, may we be living examples of the gospel that he has handed onto us!
October 15, 2017
“An ApPEALing Campaign”
Yes, I want to help bring bells back to Saint John Parish! Enclosed is my donation towards the Carillon Bell System for our Church.
NAME:_____________________________PHONE:___(____)_____________ Amount enclosed: $________________________________