The Bell of Sacred Heart Parish

 

February 22, 2024

St. Louis had a number of Bell Foundries years ago and that is where the bell in Sacred Heart church came from. It is noted as an inscription in the bell itself.

That's correct . . . bell . . . (singular)

Yes, the Sacred Heart parish church has two bell towers but only one tower has been used over these past 100 years. Little attention has been given to the bell and little information is available to its history. However, the following information has been gleaned through various sources.

The birth of Sacred Heart parish was 1893, and that year also saw the first parish church built. The building was "bare bones" according to several written sources. The inside was not plastered, nor were there any seats. Also, there was no bell tower or steeple.

The parish Golden Jubilee book of 1943 notes: "During the administration of the first resident priest, a bell was purchased for $175.72.

An early history of the parish was written by Father Joseph Fleckinger and he noted the first resident priest, Father John Hansen, was appointed in February 1893. Again to Father Fleckinger's history, Father Hansen undertook the job of building the parish facilities, both materially and spiritual. He promoted lay organizations and purchased an Ostersorium, pews and a bell.


Because the original church had no tower (steeple) Father Hansen had a strong derrick built and the bell placed on it. Eight years later, 1904, the church was enlarged, including a tower (steeple) for the bell.

The bell has the following inscription cast in the metal:

Made by Stuckstede BFCO

St. Louis, MO.

1894

DONATED BY

THE CONGREGATION

LAWRENCE, NEBR.

A Lawrence Locomotive newspaper article from 1923 related the following: "The steeple will be left set for the present and then lowered in a body. The bell has been removed and will be placed in one of the towers of the new church."


The bell has served Sacred Heart parish well for most of its 130 years (1894 – 2024). Traditionally it has called parishioners to services for the parish. For many years it was rung in the morning and evening and at noon to remind parishioners of the Angelus prayer. That happened until the parish no longer hired a resident custodian for the school and church.

It will be 130 years this year this bell has served the people of Lawrence. Its use has decreased in recent years due to mechanical problems.

In 2012, a 'Chime Master System' was installed in the church steeple capable of broadcasting bell sounds and church music multiple times a day. After almost 120 years the mechanical parts of the bell faltered and the use of the bell was slowly reduced to until it was feared serious damage might occur if use of the bell continued. Father Loras Grell was pastor at the time.


 

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