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Help restore church Bell Tower and maybe win $25,000 cash

The Holy Name of Jesus Bell Tower restoration project to cost $300,000. The sale of tickets offering cash prizes will help offset the cost.

Holy Name of Jesus is a familiar building to those travelling to and from the West Ferris area of North Bay.

Built in 1947, the beautiful Roman Catholic church is a city landmark located on Memorial Drive near the foot of the overpass.

Its Bell Tower was not part of the original architectural design.

The tower was added as part of an extension to the building in 1981-82, which included the construction of the current main entrance.  

Unfortunately, at some point, water began to seep in, to the point where a major restoration project is now required to make the necessary repairs.   

“What happened was during the construction of that Bell Tower the proper vapour barriers weren’t placed in between the masonry on the exterior of the Bell Tower and the inside walls on the interior of the church building,” explained parish priest Father Daniele Muscolino.

“So, for 40 plus years now water has just been coming in through those stones and has compromised not only the masonry work, but the interior walls. When we pulled off that drywall you could literally put your hand through the wood. And we knew we had to do something about it. It’s a shame, really.”

Musolino went on to say that fortunately, the foundation has not been compromised.

As a result, the tower is now in vital need of costly repairs.

“We are in the middle of a construction phase where construction is going to start soon. It is going to cost us over $300,000. So, we’re trying to raise money to fund that, so we can make our Bell Tower functional again,” explained the parish priest.

The Tower is important for many reasons.

“Number one, it is the main accessible entrance into our church, so anyone who needs accessibility has to come in through that entrance. When you come into the Bell Tower entrance, it has access right to the elevator which brings people up to the church level. The entrance also comes down to a ramp that has access to our parish hall. So, that is really one of the main priorities to make sure our building is safe and accessible for everyone. Number two, on the second floor of our Bell Tower, is our confessional, so right now that has been gutted and I’ve been hearing confessions in my office. Number three, we’ve not been able to ring our bell, which maybe our neighbours are happy about, but it is nice to ring the bell before church. It is a custom of the church,” noted Muscolino.

“So, we’re really working on restoring that part of the building to make it safe, to make it functional again.”

Until construction begins, the accessibility entrance will remain open.   

”Our engineers and architects have made sure that this entrance is shored up and safe for use.”

An engineering company based out of Guelph which specializes in church buildings, along with local architects Bertrand and Wheeler have been hired to work on the restoration project.

The project has been delayed for various reasons including the pandemic.

Work will begin right after Easter and is expected to take eight to ten weeks to complete.

“Easter is March 31st and the construction starts on that Tuesday, April 2nd, Muscolino noted.

“To see this project going forward this coming spring is a great joy for us because we’ve been dealing with this for the past couple of years.”

The church is selling raffle tickets to raise the money needed to help offset the $300,000 price tag.

“Our Ring the Bell lottery is our major fundraising initiative to raise money for the Bell Tower restoration,” Muscolino stated.

Each $20 ticket sold entitles the ticket holder to be entered into the final one-thousand-dollar early bird draw on Tuesday, February 13.

“The early bird coincides this year with the beginning of Lent. So, for all the love birds out there, February 14 is Valentine’s Day but for us, it is the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday. The day before is Shrove Tuesday. So, we’re having a pancake and sausage supper here at the church like we do every Shrove Tuesday, and that night we’re going to have our second early bird draw for $1,000,” Muscolino explained.

The winning ticket is still eligible for the grand prize of $25,000. That draw will take place on Easter Sunday.

“People are really excited about it; they like the prospect of winning this kind of money. We saw a lot of great ticket sales over Christmas, people buying them as gifts for people, people buying for their family and friends. So, we’ve seen some great success there. We printed 5 thousand tickets, so the margin of winning is pretty good. We’re about 50 per cent sold out now,” Muscolino said with a grin.

Time is running out to wrap up your Valentine’s Day shopping with a ticket for the Ring the Bell Raffle.

Tickets are available at Holy Name of Jesus church or by calling 705-495-1501.

Another option is to purchase tickets from volunteers at Northgate Shopping Centre on Fridays and Saturdays during the month of February from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. wrapping up on Friday, Feb. 23.

Volunteers will be back at Northgate on Fridays and Saturdays during March with the last date at that location being Friday, March 22.

Not only are you helping a good cause, but just think of the things you can do with $25,000.