Faith Matters for March 24, 2012

Church seeks to restore bells

Photo provided by Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic ChurchSacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church celebrates the addition of two new bells in 1962. The new bells were added to the bell known as Mary Elizabeth, which was acquired in 1927 and moved to the current building when it was constructed in 1942. Now all three bells are to be restored as part of a $21,000 project.
Photo provided by Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic ChurchSacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church celebrates the addition of two new bells in 1962. The new bells were added to the bell known as Mary Elizabeth, which was acquired in 1927 and moved to the current building when it was constructed in 1942. Now all three bells are to be restored as part of a $21,000 project.

Bells are still ringing at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Midcity.

They’re just not the authentic sounds of the bells that Maria “Re” DiVincenti enjoyed from her childhood in the early 1960s to about year ago, when the bells were taken out of service and replaced by electronic bells.

“Not to hear the sound is sad for me,” DiVincenti said. “I worry about the decline of the older and moving into the newer system. While the new system is nice and all, it’s not the traditional old bells. And that’s what I’m all about is tradition.”

DiVincenti’s desire for the old bell puts her at the forefront of a $21,000 project at the church to restore the historic old bells.

“I believe in restoring things that are very meaningful to an area that has been important in Baton Rouge,” she said. “Even though we have this new-age bell system, we would like to repair the old system.”

DiVincenti said her grandfather, Eugene Bologna, was one of the original donors of the campanile, or bell tower, in the first Sacred Heart building in 1927. The bell called Mary Elizabeth was moved to the campanile of today’s church, which was built in 1942.

In 1962, two new bronze bells joined Mary Elizabeth for a three-bell peal.

Mary Lee Eggart, another longtime Sacred Heart member, said she remembers the addition of the two bells.

“They were both brand-new and shiny, and I remembered being impressed with them when I was 8 years old,” she said.

Besides the beautiful sounds, DiVincenti and Eggart said the bells also served several other purposes.

“They are kind of like the voice of the building,” said Eggart, longtime archivist at the church. “They would call us to go to Mass on Sunday and kind of remind us that we would do something special and to get us into the right frame of mind to go to prayers.”

Said DiVincenti, “As a child, I heard them and I knew pretty much where we were in the day. I guess it kept me focused on the times.”

DiVincenti said the bells also may have also played a significant role for Midcity businesses and residents, who took advantage of the bells to stay “on schedule.”

Traditionally, the bells were used mostly for the daily Angelus prayer (usually said at 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m.), funerals, weddings and other events.

The original bells were discontinued a year ago due to safety reason, said Peter Mutty, who is in charge of facilities management at the church.

Mutty said the church has already spent about $13,000 with the help of a trust on addressing the bell and safety issues.

The quality of the electronic clarion call system is “very, very good,” but not the same as the old system, said Mutty, 80, an engineer who has been a member of the church for more than 20 years.

DiVincenti said she’s helping the church raise $21,000 to repair the bells.

To help with the project or other information, call the rectory at (225) 383-6671.

Backyard revival

The voice of God is calling on people to open their hearts to him, Gregory Chatelain told backyard audience last week.

“Today, I say unto you hear the word of the Lord,” he said. “Open your heart. Don’t have a hard heart toward the Lord. Jesus died on the cross for your sins. He loves you so much.”

Chatelain, 26, was one of eight speakers at an old-fashioned, tent revival at Fannie Kinchen’s home on Robertson Avenue in north Baton Rouge.

Kinchen started planning the event in February.

“The Lord just said do a revival, and I got it together and just did it,” Kinchen said. “He blessed it very well. The weather was pleasant. The community showed up. ”

Chatelain, a minister and a member of First Baptist Church of Addis, spoke from Hebrews 3:7-19.

He said the New Testament passage warned believers not to harden their hearts like the Old Testament Israelites.

“They were God’s people,” Chatelain said. “God handpicked them. When they were in bondage in Egypt, God brought them out with his mighty hand and outstretched arm.”

God brought the Israelites through the plagues, the Red Sea and the wilderness but they soon turned away from God, Chatelain said.

“They saw the glory of God, yet it says they hardened their hearts,” he said, noting the Scriptures warn against falling into the same trap.

The north Baton Rouge revival also included prayers, music, dance groups and food.

As for the next backyard revival, Kinchen said, “I’m going to have to wait on the Lord to tell me.”

‘The Devil’s Funeral’

Sunday night at the Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church included a hearse, casket, pallbearers, obituary, music, prayers, eulogy and “words of uncomfort.”

It was all part of “The Devil’s Funeral.”

While the Rev. Henry J. Brown made it clear that the devil is not dead yet, the service was meant to “serve notice he has no power” to keep destroying communities and families.

“We have to do what Jesus did and rebuke the devil,” Brown said, noting how the devil shows up in many ways.

“We’ve gotten used to the devil in our homes and in our churches,” he said. “The devil is a spirit and his spirit can get into anybody and anything. He shows up in the church as a spirit of laziness, as a spirit of criticism, as a spirt of uncooperation, as a spirit of ‘no.’ It’s when folks are asked to do something and the answer is, ‘No.’ ”

Brown said the message went along with a series of sermons he’s been preaching at his two churches — Star of Bethlehem and First Emmanuel — about the church “being a neighbor in the hood” and reaching people there.

It’s time for the church to come down from the mountain top and get out of its comfort zone and do the work in the valley, he said.

He closed with a word to the honoree of the night.

“I’ve got a message for you, devil: We’re tired of you beating upon our children; we’re tired of you breaking up our homes. We revoke your church pass. We revoke your home pass. Good night. Sleep tight,” Brown said.

After the viewing of the casket — which included a mirror — there was repast complete with fellowship, food and drink.

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Reach Terry Robinson at (225) 388-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com.