DALTON — During the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on Saturday, Aug. 15, church members of Our Lady of the Abingtons waited silently to hear the toll of the bell for the first time since it was installed in the church’s steeple.
Right before the toll, Bishop Joseph Bambera, of Scranton, said, “Let us then participate devoutly in the celebration, so that whenever we hear the ringing of the bell, we will remember that we are one family coming together to show our unity in Christ.”
Bambera spoke at the Blessing of the Bell ceremony, held inside the church due to rain, instead of at the originally scheduled outdoor grotto.
After the St. Pius X Seminary (located across from Our Lady of the Abingtons) closed over a year ago, parishioners of Our Lady of the Abingtons Church showed interest in its bell. Father Thomas Petro asked Bambera for the seminary’s bell to be transferred to his church and Bambera agreed to donate the bell.
Parishioners raised $7,000 for the bell to be refurbished. They repainted the bell with a fresh coat and put it in a new metal stand. The bell also now has an automated ringing system and tolls the Angelus at 8 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. daily.
The bell has been named “Joseph” as Petro talked about an old custom to name a bell during its baptism.
“I choose this name to honor the bishop who donated it to our church,” said Petro. “Without the generosity of Bishop Joseph Bambera, we would not have the first steeple bell for the church since its construction in 1950.”
Petro mentioned another reason why he decided to name the bell “Joseph,” saying it was to commemorate the recent return of a relic of St. Joseph’s cloak, stolen from Our Lady of the Abingtons two years ago. The relic was recovered by the Dalton Police Company. Chris Tolson, Dalton police chief, and police officer Stephen Hall were presented with a statue of St. Michael the Archangel, a token of appreciation given by Our Lady of the Abingtons Church for recovering the relic.
After mass, church members enjoyed a picnic of hot dogs, hamburgers, salads and desserts in the church pavailion.
“It’s a great opportunity for the people to be together and have the bell serve the community,” said Bambera.
Although St. Pius X Seminary is currently closed, its youth programs continue at Our Diocesan Pastoral Center (formerly Holy Cross High School) in downtown Scranton.
Petro and the parishioners are grateful for Bambera’s generosity and are glad to see the bell in its new home of Our Lady of the Abingtons Church.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Petro. “We are now happy to receive this truly historic gift from our bishop.”