FORT MILL --
There’ll be clapping of a higher sort Saturday as St. Philip Neri celebrates progress on a new sanctuary still months from completion.
Saturday brings a Blessing of the Bells ceremony. Plans are for five bells to be hoisted within the central bell tower of the new Catholic church sanctuary and sounded for the first time. For one family, the event marks the opportunity of a generation.
“It’s kind of a big, full-circle kind of thing,” said Dennis Jacobs, a member for of St. Philip Neri for seven years. “When the time came along I thought this would be a beautiful thing to do.”
Dennis and his wife, Melanie, donated the money for two bells and had them inscribed with his parents’ names. The church children’s bell choir raised funds for another, and other parishioners for the remaining bells. There also will be a replicating system giving the audio of many more bells when played.
The year before Jacobs was born, his grandmother donated a bell to St. Catherine church in Columbus, Ohio, in honor of her recently deceased husband. Now Jacobs will honor his parents, her children, with bells at St. Philip Neri. Jacobs’ parents, both nearly 90, they’ll be flown up from Florida for Saturday’s ceremony.
The same Cincinnati, Ohio-based Verdin Bells & Clocks company that services and may have struck the St. Catherine bell is the same company that created the one Jacobs sponsored for St. Philip Neri.
“In much the same way my grandmother honored my grandfather, we wanted to honor my parents,” Jacobs said.
The ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and is open to the public. It also provides an opportunity to see progress on the sanctuary itself, which should be complete by the coming Easter.
According to the church, there were about 70 families when the fellowship began in 1993. Now there are nearly 2,000 families. The new sanctuary offers parishioners a chance to “regain a sense of sacredness and respect that we should all have for God’s home,” according to information from the church.
The sanctuary will be 22,000 square feet and will seat 1,200. A chapel adds capacity for 100 more. It will host services, wedding events, funerals and the like. It also allows the current worship space to transition back to its original use as a multipurpose building.