Monday, March 06, 2017

After Restoration, Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen Church's Bells Ring Once Again

Sacred Hearts- St. Stephen Monsignor Guy A. Massie and Pastoral Associate John Heyer, II

The parishioners of Sacred Hearts- St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church in Carroll Gardens are rightfully proud of their beautiful edifice located at the corner of Summit Street and Hicks Street.
Since its dedication on October 31, 1875, the members of the congregation have been wonderful stewards of this church, which was originally designed by Irish-born Brooklyn resident, Patrick Keeley.

Thought the decades, the structure has been undermined first by the adjacent construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway trench in the 1930's, then by a devastating fire in 1951, and  by compounded damage caused by the vibrations of the B.Q.E..
Undeterred, the parishioners have always collected funds to rebuild and to renovate and to bring their church back to its splendor.

So, when a few months ago, the original mechanical system which rang the Sacred Hearts - St. Stephen Church bells on the hour stopped functioning, the congregation once again fund-raised and made sure that it was restored. The work was just completed and the system has been updated with the latest technology. For the past few days, the bells have been ringing again.

This past Friday, I was invited by Monsignor Guy A. Massie and Pastoral Associate John Heyer, II to speak about the history of the bells and the recent restoration.  Afterwards, together with Heyer, I was allowed to climb the steep wooden stairs to the top of the bell tower to see the old mechanicals and the new electronic system that has just been installed.

The sound made by the four bells in the clocktower (a large bell dedicated in 1889 and three smaller ones made in Baltimore in 1906) is created by means of a striking mechanism, which makes these the only bells to still actually toll in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill. (Other neighborhood churches use pre-recorded carillons). The new mechanics work similarly, though the  new strikers are made of coated stainless steel, which creates a slightly softer sound than before.

As the bells can be heard once more through the neighborhood, Monsignor Massie and Heyer are mindful to introduce and to inform the larger community about why and when the bells ring at certain times. "The Church is part of the community," Monsignor Massie told me. " The neighborhood has become more pluralistic. Our parish has to live in today's world."

To this end, Sacred Hearts- St. Stephen is providing the community with the following is the bell schedule and what each sound signifies:

*Westminster Chimes: from 8AM till 10PM ring on the hour to tell the time (once at 1, twice at two ect.) and once on the half-hour.
*The Angelus is chimed with a series of bell strikes at 8:30AM, 12 Noon and 6PM. The Angelus is a call to pray to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
*The "Tolling Bell" is a deep and slow ring of the largest bell in the tower and is used at the beginning and end of a Funeral Mass.
*The "Swinging Bell" is the constant ringing of the largest bell with faint strike of the bell between every ring in order to reproduce the sound of a bell swinging on a wheel. this bell is used 15 minutes before each Mass as a call to prayer at 8:15 AM and 11:45 AM during the week, 5:15 PM on Saturday and 7:45 AM, 9:45 AM and 11:45 AM on Sunday.
*The "Pealing Bells" is the ringing of all four church bells in a beautiful but random pattern. This is typically used for a joyous occasion at the end of a Wedding, Sunday Mass of other church celebration.

I would like to thank both Monsignor Massie and John Heyer for taking the time to speak with me and for providing me with the opportunity to see the bells up close. It was quite an adventure and I enjoyed it very much.


Anonymous said...

Love and thank you!!

kathleen said...

What a beautiful church! So glad the bells are ringing again.