The bell tolls again after 50 years

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The bell tolls again after 50 years
Photo courtesy of John Redeker

On Black Tuesday, 7 February 1967, Our Lady Queen of Peace Church at Flowerpot was destroyed by a bushfire that claimed the lives and homes of many Tasmanians.

Not far away from Flowerpot was St Mary’s church at Snug, which perished the same day to those same fearsome bushfires. However, one important structure survived the fire at St Mary’s church – the church bell and tower.

In the years to follow, the bell moved to a number of new sites in the Channel region, but finally, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Black Tuesday bushfires, the bell returned to its original home – complete with a new tower – at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Snug.

To mark the return of the bell after its 50 year absence, an ecumenical ceremony was held at St Mary’s Church, where Archbishop Julian blessed the bell and its new tower.

“Bells have a special place in the life of God’s people: they mark the hours for prayer and call us to the celebration of the liturgy.

“Today is the benediction and dedication of this new Bell; we remember especially those who suffered and perished in the 1967 Bushfires which destroyed the original church and bell on this site; and those who unselfishly came to their aid,” His Grace said.

During the service Father Graeme Howard read the names of the bushfire victims, and the bell tolled once for each fatality.

More than 500 people from all denominations attended the official dedication and blessing of the bell, which is representative of the integrated community effort that was demonstrated to fundraise and rebuild the bell tower.

Following the blessing, attendees formed a procession along Beach Road to the Snug Oval, passing 50 newly planted crepe myrtle trees – planted especially to commemorate the 50-year anniversary.

Earlier in the day, a mass was celebrated in Flowerpot at the location where Our Lady Queen of Peace Church had stood. The site is now a memorial and cemetery.