Every day, from morning to evening, the crystal clear peal of a bell rings across the Saint Mary’s campus. Holy Cross Founder Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau gifted the bell to the sisters after they arrived in the United States in 1843. Recast in 1879, it became part of the Center Building clock tower following construction in 1889.
For decades, the bell chimed for the Angelus prayer, funerals and other community celebrations. But age and mechanical failure took their toll. Eventually, sisters and campus visitors could enjoy the bell only at the top of each hour. The clock, too, bore the burden of time and the elements, ceasing to function in the 1960s.
As the Congregation approached its 175th anniversary in 2019, the time seemed right to rehabilitate the entire tower. The goal: to bring both the bell and the clock to full restoration.
For the clock, new operating equipment replaced the 1930s-era electric system that itself had replaced the original set of weights that drove the clock’s mechanism. The new equipment allowed for digital programming to set the time. Additionally, the dial hands and the four clock faces were replaced with weatherproof materials to protect them from the elements and make them easier to read.
The 19th-century bell’s restoration involved adding wireless remote technology to create ease of operation.
Made possible by donors
Several donors contributed to make the restoration a reality. They included many Saint Mary’s College alumnae who hold a deep love of the campus. Local community partners such as Alick’s Home Medical Equipment and St. Joseph Health System also generously donated. Some donors gave gifts in memory of individual sisters, recognizing their years of loving contributions to the Saint Mary’s community.These days, the bell chimes for the hour and half hour, for Angelus and Mass, and for every burial that processes from the church to the cemetery. The restoration was both a timely and a sound idea.