A praiseworthy mission accomplished

Cardinal from Luxembourg congratulates community for saving the bells of St. Mary’s Church, blesses their new home in memorial to Lake Church parish

CARDINAL JEAN-CLAUDE HOLLERICH from Luxembourg (above) spoke at the blessing and dedication of the Bells of St. Mary’s Memorial Saturday at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lake Church. Left (from left) Bells of St. Mary’s President Bob Hubing and Vice President Kevin Wester accepted a plaque from Mike Ansay, honorary consul of Luxembourg in Wisconsin, for their work in saving the 140-year-old bells. Photos by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

It was a long time coming, and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich came a long way, but the bells of St. Mary’s Church in Lake Church have been saved, memorialized, electrified and, after Saturday, blessed.

A large crowd of people gathered at St. Mary’s Cemetery for the dedication and blessing, some from out of state returning to the place their ancestors settled after leaving Luxembourg.

The revering ceremony included ringing of the 140-year-old bells via an app.

Hollerich, in his words of blessing, congratulated the community for saving the bells from the shuttered St. Mary’s Church that has been turned into a house and is for sale.

The bells connect with a legacy nearly two centuries old, Hollerich said, “but it is more than that. It is a link to the future, and I’m so happy to see people here from many different generations. This tower is very solid. It is a gift for the next generations.”

Hollerich used to work with young people as a professor in Japan, and he has missed that connection when he was named a bishop. He said he loves young people because “I trust in them because they will continue life when I’m dead and I will pose in the crypt of our cathedral. So I’m happy that young people are here. You are the future. You have the life of the future, and this bell tower shows your roots, and that’s wonderful.”

Years ago, Hollerich said, the Catholic church had a hierarchy with young people at the bottom.

“That’s not very nice,” he said. “I think Jesus was not someone at the top. He was always with people at the bottom.”

The image of the church, he said, is people walking with its leaders, “which means that the priest or the bishops or the cardinals are not the only ones to take initiatives.

“You are not objects; you are subjects of the church, and you can take initiatives. You should take initiatives, and in fact you did it.”

Building the tower, saving the bells, having them electrified and actively engaging in a necessary community of support, “shows that yes, you have understood what the church is: the people of God taking initiatives.

“Thank you so much. I will use your example in other talks I have to give about the church in Europe. Thank you for that.”

The three bells had been slated to be sent to a mission in Africa led by the late Father Jim Ernster. An old St. Mary’s school bell was sent instead, after former St. Mary’s parishioners became upset they would lose some of the last remnants of their beloved church. That’s when Bob Hubing started the Bells of St. Mary’s nonprofit organization that got the ball rolling on saving the bells.

In other speeches of thank yous, congratulations and introductions of immigrants’ descendants, the Bells of St. Mary’s Vice President reminded the crowd of the fundraising goal presented in the same cemetery in May 2021.

“I remember our kickoff event at the crucifixion scene in the cemetery when I announced we were going to try to raise a quarter of a million dollars. All of the Luxembourgers here just about had a heart attack.”

Due to the pandemic, that total grew to $300,000, which included refurbishing gravestones in the cemetery and paving its road.

Donations totaled more than $380,000 to date, keyed by the Bruce Krier Foundation’s matching $50,000 grant.

About $60,000 is left over, which will go toward the perpetual care fund of the cemetery. A second column barium is going to be added, which costs $60,000, Wester said, which depletes the fund.

The perpetual care fund will be the endowment for the future with a fund drive starting in late October.

Donor recognition plaques will be put on the six legs of the bell memorial next spring.

“So please be generous with this final appeal. You can rest in peace in the cemetery,” Wester said to laughs.

For more information, visit thebellsofstmarys.org.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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