Saint-Joachim Parish in La Broquerie received a grant of $30,214 from the provincial government to help fund restoring the bell and illuminating the steeple.
Louis Tetrault, spokesperson for the Saint-Joachim Parish, says this grant will be a huge help in completing their project.
"We were very happy and enthusiastic about receiving pretty much 50 percent of the cost of the project that we're envisioning for the church.”
They want to be able to hear the steeple bell all throughout the community, and this grant will help with that.
He says the current bell is the same bell from 1901 when the church was built. The reason it doesn't ring loudly anymore is that the church uses a hammer to ring the bell, rather than the old method of manually using ropes.
“About 15 years ago, the gentleman that would go ring the bell became older and ill, and was not able to physically do it anymore.”
Tetrault says no other volunteers seemed to be willing to ring the bell, as it is committing to a daily task.
“And that gentleman that was doing it lived right next door to the church, but nobody seemed to step up to do it, so they switched the system.”
The rope and pully would get the bell to swing back and forth, hit the hanging pendulum, and resonate throughout the community, but they found the hammer didn’t have the same effect.
“The hammer just bangs the side of the bell. The bell doesn't move, so there's no echo effect and it's not as loud.”
He says nobody expected that the method of ringing the bell would make such a difference in the sound it creates.
“I've lived in La Broquerie all my life, and for most of my life, I lived about half a mile away and we could easily hear that bell ring,” he says. “And now I live 200 yards away from the church and I cannot hear it. I think it takes away from our community spirit in the fact that our bell isn't able to resonate throughout the community.”
He says the parish found out that many citizens are saddened that they can no longer hear the bell.
“And they were missing the old system where that bell would resonate all through the community, so our committee was asked to look at reactivating the bell system the way it used to be, and so we looked into it.”
Tetrault says the new bell system will use a small electric motor that can be programmed to ring at specific times, and it will do the same thing as what the ropes were doing prior.
While they were in the process of restoring the bell, they thought while they are at it, it would also be a great thing to illuminate the steeple.
“We felt that the beautiful building at the very center of our community would be nice to have illuminated at night, so we also decided to look at having the steeple lit with LED lights that can change colors.”
Tetrault says having the steeple lit up will showcase the parish really well.
“Lighting up the steeple will mean accentuating the beautiful historic building that's in the center of town. I think it will be somewhat of a tourist attraction and it will be showcasing the pride of our community.”
He says this project will be great for the community.
“The bell used to be a form of communication throughout the community, and I think it will bring back the same spirit of community by the fact that it will be ringing daily and resonating throughout the community.”
The entire project of restoring the bell and illuminating the steeple will cost the parish approximately just over $60,000.
The Building Sustainable Communities grant will cover around 50 percent of the cost of the project, and they also made an application to Thomas Sill Foundation, and they have awarded the parish $7,500.
“And we've made a few other applications and we're pretty confident that the complete $60,000 required for the project will be raised in a matter of time, and we are hopeful our project will be done by the end of summer.”
He notes the 125 year celebration of the parish will be coming up in a few years.
“Our committee is planning extensive maintenance projects in preparation for the 125 year celebration,” he says. “We'll be looking at doing a lot of fundraising to make sure that this beautiful historic building is maintained and keeps on being the center of attraction in this community.”
He says donations are always appreciated and accepted, and notes they are a charitable organization, so it's tax deductible.