Breaking ground on bells of St. Mary’s memorial

Cardinal Hollerich from Luxembourg to attend dedication in August

GROUND WAS BROKEN on the St. Mary’s Catholic Church bell memorial in Lake Church Cemetery in the Town of Belgium on Sunday. Bob Hubing (above, tan jacket), president of the Bells of St. Mary’s Inc., led the ceremony. Divine Savior Pastor Gideon Buya led a prayer and Bells of St. Mary’s Vice President Kevin Wester provided an update on the project. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Seven months after a fundraising campaign officially kicked off for the St. Mary’s Church bell memorial, ground was broken on the project.

Supporters gathered on Sunday at St. Mary’s Cemetery next to the church to mark the start of construction.

The heavy lifting will be done in spring with dedication set for August.

Bells of St. Mary’s Vice President Kevin Wester announced that a special guest is planning to attend the ceremony in August. Jean-Claude Hollerich, the cardinal/archbishop of Luxembourg, will bless and dedicate the bells on Aug. 13 as part of a two-week visit to Luxembourg settlements in the Midwest.

Wester discovered that Hollerich is his fourth cousin and will be the fifth bishop of Luxembourg to visit Ozaukee County since 1901.

“He is very much into Wester genealogy as I am and he has an uncanny resemblance to my deceased Father, Bert,” Wester said.

Hollerich is Luxembourg’s first cardinal. He was promoted to the position by Pope Francis in 2019.

Hollerich planned to visit this August but the pandemic delayed his trip to next year.

The memorial will include three bronze church bells that were manufactured in the 1880s by the Henry McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, shipped by train to Belgium Station — the original name for the Village of Belgium — and then put on wagons and hauled by horses to the then new church in Lake Church.

The bells were rung for daily Mass and funerals and rang the noon-time Angelus for 100 years. Silenced in 1985 when the parish bought an electronic carillon system, the bells will ring again through a new technology — an app. 

St. Mary’s Church was closed to worship in 2018 due to a priest shortage, and the building put up for sale. A couple of years ago an idea was floated to send the bells to Africa where Father Jim Weyker had done mission work for half a century.

But parishioners, upset that the church’s closing wasn’t done with proper reverence, emotionally pleaded to keep the bells at a meeting at Holy Cross Chapel in fall 2019 that drew about 60 people, which led to the formation of the Bells of St. Mary’s headed by Bob Hubing.

It was decided that a fourth bell — the 130-year-old, 120-pound one from St. Mary’s School that closed in 2009 — would be sent to a new Salvatorian Catholic secondary school in Masasi, Tanzania.

The school bell was dedicated in May at St. Mary’s Cemetery, and a $250,000 capital campaign was kicked off to refurbish and electrify the bells, as well as for cemetery improvements. Lead gifts totaled $82,500, leaving $167,500 left to raise.

Six months later, the effort had raised $256,000, with help from a $50,000 matching grant from the Bruce Krier Foundation.

As construction and other costs continue to rise with inflation, another $50,000 is sought to build the memorial.

For more information, visit or contact Wester at 262-355-5758 or by email at



Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login