By JOEY REISTROFFER
GAFFNEY — For more than 30 years, a 2,000-pound bronze bell made in Belgium has been ringing in the Masses and bringing in the faithful at Sacred Heart Church.
It still peels out the resonating chime that can be heard for miles around Gaffney. The ringer, however, needs a little work.
So Father Gary Linsky and the parishioners have decided to fix it.
With the approval of Bishop David B. Thompson, they have hired Van Bergen Bellfoundries to put in a new electronic system. For almost $10,000, Van Bergen will install a new swing motor and external striker and control systems with a new master clock.
“This is no cheap recording. This is something to be proud of,” said Father Linsky. “The neighbors come to listen to the bell peel out. It’s a beautiful sound.”
Added Joanne Babin, director of religious education at Sacred Heart, “It reminds us that our lives are centered around Christ.”
That is why Sacred Heart has rallied around its bell. Father Linsky said parishioners have talked about restoring the bell since 1990, with a contract for the work finally signed Oct. 6. The priest hopes the tuned-up bell will peel out for the first time on Dec. 13. That is a significant date for Father Linsky. That day the bishop will travel to Gaffney to install him as the new pastor, and the parish wants to greet Bishop Thompson with music from the bell tower.
Sacred Heart’s bell will electronically and automatically ring on the hour, Father Linsky said. At night, however, it will be silenced so the neighborhood can enjoy quiet time. But during the day, the bell will play. The “Angelus” will be part of its repertoire, Father Linsky said, and will ring out during special services and at funerals.
“We’re excited,” Father Linsky said. “The people wanted this.”
And now it is almost time. In a couple of weeks, the new bell will chime.