The Ascension Parish bell has rung thousands of times since its dedication in 1912, calling residents of North Tonawanda to worship at the church for 95 years before the church closed in 2007.
Now the bell will ring again — at its new home at Mount Olivet Cemetery in the Town of Tonawanda.
A special Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at the cemetery, 4000 Elmwood Ave., to mark the re-dedication and blessing of the bell. Bishop Edward Grosz, auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, will be the celebrant. The event will take place exactly 100 years after the day the bell was originally
dedicated by Bishop Charles Colton, fourth bishop of Buffalo.
In a way, the bell’s journey has come full circle with its new home, said Chip Mussen, director of marketing for Catholic Cemeteries. The Rev. Francis Kelly, pastor of Ascension at the time, was looking for land for a Catholic cemetery in the area and bought the original 50 acres of land (and subsequent additions) that became Mount Olivet Cemetery.
“He’s the one who named it, and he’s actually buried there,” Mussen said. “There’s really a full circle with the relationship to the bell, the parish community and the cemetery, Mount Olivet. His name is on the bell, as well as Bishop Colton’s ... and now the bell is at the cemetery that Kelly started and Colton consecrated.”
The bell has been at the cemetery for a little more than a year, while the diocese was in the process of auctioning off the parish buildings. Mussen said
“We were trying to save something that had significance to the Ascension community,” he said. “There weren’t a lot of things that could be used at the cemetery. I thought of the bell; I thought it would be a unique feature. We couldn’t take the stained glass and stuff because of historical preservation reasons, but the bell was something we were allowed to touch.”