Bishop blesses Cathedral bells

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, bells, Bishop Robert Guglielmone, blessing

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, bells, Bishop Robert Guglielmone, blessingCHARLESTON — Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass and blessed the three new bells for the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Oct. 15, saying the instruments will serve as a call to conversation with God.

In his homily, the bishop said the bells will mark time, toll for funerals and rejoice in the risen Lord.

“I ask you every time you hear it just remember to pray,” he said. “Remember what it is we are called to do.”

His homily centered on how Christians are unified through God.

“The vine has one source, one root,” he said. “Jesus is that source and all take nourishment and sustenance from him. It all depends on the connectedness to the vine and a willingness to take nourishment from the source.”

The blessing was held on the Cathedral lawn. The three handcrafted bells, created by the Christoph Paccard Bell Foundry in Annecy, France, were mounted in a steel frame that was decorated with garlands.

Father Gregory Wilson, Cathedral rector pro tem, invited all present to sign their names on the frame.

“The Cathedral is a church for everybody, not just a particular group,” Father Wilson told The Miscellany. “It becomes the greatest symbol of our unity as a diocese around our successor to the apostles, the bishop of the South Carolina diocese.”

Mallets will be mounted inside which will operate electronically. The blessing included a ringing by hand from bell sponsors Pamela Anderson and Sheila Prezzano; and John Caputo, chairman of the fundraising committee.

The bells were engraved with the names Maria Stella Maris or Mary, Star of the Sea, St. Finbar and St. Therese. They weigh approximately 2,300 pounds, 1,200 pounds and 700 pounds respectively.

The largest, Maria Stella Maris, is nearly 50 inches in diameter. They are made of bronze, a combination of copper and tin, and together form an E major chord.

The Cathedral has undergone major changes over the last four years with a brownstone renovation, the purchase of the bells, and construction of the steeple, designed by Glenn Keyes Architects and built by High-tower Construction. Once completed, the Cathedral and bell tower will be 168 feet tall.

The project is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2010 at a cost of $7 million. The diocese has raised $3.5 million through the Our Heritage, Our Hope campaign and the Cathedral parish is responsible for the other half. Caputo said they still need $400,000 to reach their goal.

One of the events to help defray the cost is the upcoming Bishop’s Cathedral Ball. It will take place Nov. 14 at the Hibernian Society Hall, located at 105 Meeting St. Tickets have been sent to all churches in the Diocese of Charleston.

The ball will feature music by the Fabulous Kays, food and drink, and is black tie optional. Tickets are $100 each. Parishes selling tickets receive part of the proceeds.

The Mills House hotel, located next to the Hibernian Hall, will offer discount rates for the ball.

Contact your local parish office for tickets or call the Cathedral office at (843) 724-8395.