Bells

Bishop James D. Conley uses oil of the sick to bless the Saint Matthew bell, as the Rev. Michael Zimmer, back, watches Thursday. Four new bronze bells will be installed in the St. Thomas Aquinas Church tower in Lincoln, Neb.

Dan Little | The Journal-Star

LINCOLN, Neb. — Four bells that will beckon worshippers to services at a new Catholic church near the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have been blessed by the local bishop.

Bishop James Conley performed the ritual Thursday at what will be the new home of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and the Newman Center. They will be located in the new building across from the university’s City Campus.

The church and center will serve about 6,000 Catholics at the university, the Lincoln Journal Star said.

In days past, the ringing of the bells was the only form of mass communication, Conley said. Bells sounded not only to signify that services were beginning soon, they also notified villagers of good news and warned them of impending dangers.

When distance silenced the sound of bells, a new church with its own bell was built.

“The bells almost take on a personification,” Conley said. Each of the four was named, he said: St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John. The four bells, which have a combined weight of 1,900 pounds, were ceremonially washed and anointed before being hoisted up into the octagonal-shaped bell tower. A secular ritual also was held Thursday: The final steel beam was signed and lifted into place.

The church and student center are phases two and three of a four-phase, $25 million project. A 68-bed Catholic fraternity house, Phi Kappa Theta, was the first phase, and it opened last fall. The Newman Center is expected to be finished this winter, and the 650-seat church is expected to open next spring. The final phase of the project will be construction of a Catholic sorority house.

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