New bells blessed and installed at St. Mary Help of Christians

AIKEN—St. Mary Help of Christians held a blessing of four bells to be placed in its new bell tower (currently nearing the end of its construction) on July 16 after the 11 a.m. Mass.

A bilingual celebration was held in English and Spanish to reflect the community, said Father Gregory Wilson, pastor.

Msgr. Richard D. Harris, vicar general, who originally hails from Aiken, was the guest celebrant. He blessed the bells after Mass and had the privilege of striking the large one with a hammer, sending forth its first deeply resounding tone.

The bells were purchased by parishioners who participated in the final phase of the church’s capital campaign, “Building on Faith and Love.” Father Wilson said they belong to the whole community. The parishioners helped name each one by voting on saints.

These musical instruments are also inscribed with Scripture.

The largest bell, dubbed St. Anthony of Padua, is a D-3 note inscribed with “I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music” (Ps 27:6). Next is the St. Francis of Assisi bell that is an F#-3 that states: “Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt Him above all forever” (Dn 3:57).

The St. Therese of Lisieux is an A-3 tone that has the quote: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death” (Song 8:6).

The smallest bell is St. Joseph, a B-3. Its inscription is “And one seraphim called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory’” (Is 6:3).

“There is an option in the future to add five more bells if people would like personally to donate those later,” Father Wilson said.

The bells were purchased through the Christoph-Paccard bell foundry, which is based in Charleston. They were cast in the 220 year-old Paccard Foundry des Cloches of Annecy, France, a seventh generation family-owned company.

All photos by Deirdre C. Mays/Miscellany: Top, Msgr. Richard D. Harris (left), vicar general, incenses the bells during the blessing at St. Mary Help of Christians on July 16. He is a native of Aiken.

Massgoers gather outside the church for the bell blessing.


Father Gregory Wilson, pastor, stands with members of the building committee.


The bells are named after St. Anthony of Padua, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Joseph.