St. Mary’s bell honours those who served in WWI

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, November 8, 2018

The bell under the arbour in the Sacred Garden of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Cochrane, joins with countless other church bells across Canada in marking the centennial of signing of the armistice to end World War I. Photos by Warren Harbeck

This Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that officially ended World War I. Church bells rang across our land to celebrate that wonderful moment.

The Royal Canadian Legion has organized a nation-wide Bells of Peace event for this Remembrance Day to mark the centennial anniversary. A half-dozen Cochrane-area churches will join countless others across Canada in ringing their bells 100 times at sunset on Nov. 11 to express our gratitude for those who served in that terrible war.

One partner in the tolling will be the historic bell in the Sacred Garden of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, along River Heights Dr., a bell with a peace-making story of its own.

The cast iron bell was originally installed in St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Youngstown, Alta., east of Drumheller, at the start of the WWI. When that church closed in 2001, the bell was made available to St. Mary’s.

There’s a humorous side note to this story about the importance of communication. When the Knights of Columbus team from St. Mary’s arrived in Youngstown with official permission to remove the bell, one of the townsfolk, unaware of the permission, was horrified to see the team using a forklift to remove the bell from the church tower and tried to stop them. He saw the bell as very much part of their local identity. After some successful peace talks of their own, however, they were able to get the bell on its way to Cochrane.

In its new home beneath the arbour in St. Mary’s Sacred Garden, it hangs above a steel plate centred within a circle of paving stones. Inscribed on the plate is a prescription for peace in today’s troubled world:

“Let us do something beautiful for God” – wisdom from Saint Teresa of Calcutta, “Mother Teresa.”



© 2018 Warren Harbeck

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