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Church bells ring out from Ipswich and Rosewood, calling Catholics to prayer during COVID-19

Call to prayer: Life-long Rosewood parishioner Pat Lenihan has volunteered to ring the midday Angelus bell in his town. Photo: Moreton Border News

A PHONE call to a Franciscan Friar in Assisi has set church bells ringing from Ipswich to Rosewood, lifting COVID prayers to heaven.

Ipswich Catholic Community parish administrator Franciscan Father Stephen Bliss was in the middle of a phone call to Assisi, the founding home of St Francis’ order in Italy, about the time when COVID-19 restrictions were being imposed in Australia.

Inspiration came down the line.

“I was on the phone to a Franciscan in Assisi, and I heard the church bells ringing in the background, and I thought ‘Well, we have some beautiful bells here, why don’t we try that’,” Fr Bliss said.

“(And) we’ve been doing it since the day the lockdown started as a call to prayer and a reminder of the Angelus.

“We are ringing the bells at St Mary’s, Ipswich, and St Brigid’s, Rosewood.”

It’s been raising plenty of interest in both centres.

“We’ve had a number of people phone up asking us what it’s about and we explain it to them,” Fr Bliss said.

He said the priests of the parish and office staff, as well as school children nearby, stopped to pray the Angelus.

Life-long Rosewood parishioner Pat Lenihan has volunteered to ring the midday Angelus bell in his town.

He’s set an alarm for 11.45am to prompt him to set off from his home to drive a little over four kilometres to St Brigid’s each day to ring the church bell.

“Fr Stephen thought that, seeing that we couldn’t use the church with the COVID restrictions in place, it was a good idea to ring the bell and let the people know that we’re still around and he said it’s really a calling to prayer,” Mr Lenihan said.

He said the bell-ringing had prompted a lot of discussion around the town and “the school kids (next to the church) and some of the teachers come out and give me a wave”.

“Years ago, when my children were going to school, the school children rang the bell every day during the week, but then it stopped for some reason,” he said.

Mr Lenihan’s grandson and son-in-law had a chance to ring the bell last Saturday when they filled in for him while he was out of town.

Mr Lenihan, 76, attended St Brigid’s Primary School, as did his father Tom, and one of his grandchildren who is a student is among the fifth generation of the family to attend.

The bell-ringing tradition may be one to continue as well.

“If Fr Stephen wants to keep going after the COVID is finished, well, I’ll just keep ringing it. It’s no hassle to me,” Mr Lenihan said.

“I think we will keep it going (when the COVID restrictions are lifted),” Fr Bliss said.

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