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Bell rings once again at Storm Lake parish

By RENEE WEBB, Globe senior reporter
(Email Renee)

STORM LAKE – Years ago Lorraine Peterson, a parishioner at St. Mary Church, spearheaded an effort to have the church bell set up on an electrical switch, but for several years now, the bell hasn’t worked.

The parishioner was very excited when the parish had undertaken a project to restore the bell and its chimes. Unfortunately, she passed away just 10 days before the bell was back up and in use.

In Peterson’s honor, on July 26, the one month anniversary of her death, the bell tolled thanks to the recent restoration project.

Father Tim Friedrichsen, pastor, pointed out the parish’s previous pastor, Father Bruce Lawler, had already begun the process of restoring the bell. When he mentioned the project to parishioners, they were supportive.

“This is the 50th anniversary of the installation of the bell -- and the 60th anniversary of the church building -- so this seems like the time to have it done,” Father Friedrichsen said.

Dawn Prosser, development director and office manager at St. Mary’s, estimated that the bell hasn’t worked for eight to 10 years.

“In the spring, Father Friedrichsen contacted the Verdin Bell Company about what the costs would be, getting controls that worked and wiring,” she said. “The challenge was in getting the 1,200-pound bell down and shipped to Indiana for the work. Taylor Contracting here in town was very helpful with that.”

The bell, which was polished and refurbished, is a non-swinging bell.

“Given that, I was surprised by the technical aspects of working on the bell and adjusting the striker so it can strike the bell with differing intensities to simulate what the company called the "Doppler" effect,” Father Friedrichsen said. “I was somewhat familiar with the new digital controls they have from the work done in Denison.”

The priest said he was not surprised, however, by the excellent help local businesses contributed to the project - especially the crews that took down and reinstalled the polished bell and all of the electrical work that was done.

The bell had been taken down on April 24 and it went back up on July 9. The new controls and wiring, installed by Stanton Electric, have the capability to sound the bell remotely and from various locations of the parish campus.

“I love hearing the bell call people to worship at about five minutes before every weekend Mass,” Father Friedrichsen said. “We can also use this ring for other celebrations. The tolling of the bell adds a note of solemnity and honor when we are moving our deceased brother or sister from the church to the hearse.”

The bell is also programmed to toll at 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. – the three times daily in keeping with the Angelus tradition.

Prosser said parishioners have commented that it’s been nice to hear the bell ringing again.

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