YELM – On Sundays at St. Columban Church, ushers walk outside to give the church bell a couple of rings, marking the start of Mass.
The bell was installed in a freestanding wooden tower when the church was built in 1990.
St. Columban bell tower. Photo: Courtesy Father Paul Weckert
“The bell tower is a symbol of our lives,” said Benedictine Father Paul Weckert, priest administrator at the Yelm parish.
And as in life, the original tower was showing its age — the wood was rotted, there was a hole in the cross and birds were living in it, Father Weckert said. Parish officials decided it was time to replace the structure.
Building the new tower — topped by a large cross — cost the small parish about $21,000, but nearly $9,800 of the funds came from St. Columban’s rebate through the Annual Catholic Appeal, said Pat Selsor, the parish bookkeeper and secretary. The annual archdiocesan collection helps fund more than 60 ministries in Western Washington (see box). Each parish is assigned a fundraising goal; when the goal is topped, the extra money is returned to the parish for projects of its choosing.
Last year, some 40 percent of St. Columban’s households participated in the Annual Catholic Appeal, Selsor said.
Located near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Pierce County, St. Columban’s 350 households include many military families, young people and children, Father Weckert said. The parish has so many children, he added, that all eight classrooms in the parish’s new religious education building are full on Sundays.
Appeal has wide reach
The Annual Catholic Appeal helps fund more than 60 diverse programs in the Seattle Archdiocese, including multicultural ministries, Catholic schools, retirement funds for priests and religious sisters, Catholic Youth Organization, faith formation, Catholic Community Services, seminarian formation and lay ecclesial ministry.
Of every dollar contributed, 71 cents goes to ministries and services, 22 cents is refunded to parishes and 7 cents pays for expenses.
Source: Archdiocese of Seattle