Just in time for Advent and the Christmas season, the St. Sebastian bell tower once again will ring out the hours. But in case you never noticed, there aren’t any bells in the tower, as it’s not structurally designed for the weight.

What’s new is a set of speakers and upgraded wiring. St. Sebastian Maintenance Director Bryan Kirkpatrick worked with a technician from Verdin Bells for several days in November. They performed tests to be sure the bells could be heard throughout the neighborhood – though not so loud that they’d wake everyone up.

“The bells had been silent for several months,” Bryan says. “The old 40-watt system was inconsistent, and when we lost power, the entire thing had to be reprogrammed. When we checked the tower, the old speaker rack had disintegrated, and it was unclear how many of the eight speaker horns actually worked.”

Brian says the 6-watt new system has speakers that broadcast in four directions. Each speaker projects sound at a 120 degree angle. It’s controlled with a hand-held tablet and has a vast library of songs for any occasion, including Christmas carols, taps for military services or Easter hymns.

“We could even insert a memory card with our own music,” he says. Funds available at the end of Fiscal Year 2018 were used to fund the upgrades.

Pastoral associate and director of liturgy and music, Mike Kamenski, is coordinating timing with Mount Olive across the street. In the past, Mount Olive chimed the quarter-hour, and St. Sebs rang in the top of the hour.

Before: The old bell system

After: The new bell system with upgraded support and wiring.

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