Clara Bell Will Ring Again

Clara Bell Will Ring Again

l to r: Sisters KD Strandell and Jeanne Carrigan hold the rope that many Sisters pulled when ringing the bell in St. Francis Chapel. It has been placed in the convent archives.



"As a crowning touch to their good work, they reverently fixed in the chapel tower an iron-tongued monitor, named Clara, which was piously blessed by Father Steiger." 

- From "Our Community," written in 1919



For more than 100 years, the Clara bell sat atop St. Francis Chapel, calling Sisters to prayer three times a day.  Many of our Sisters remember being lifted off the ground as they joyfully took turns ringing Clara. Years later students of St. Mary's Academy bowed their heads in silence whenever the bell tolled out the call to prayer.  When the 1894-built chapel was deconstructed in 2020, the Clara bell was placed in storage, awaiting its next chapter.  

We are happy to announce that the Clara bell will be ringing once again!  The Verdin Company (Cincinnati, Ohio) is sandblasting and polishing the bell, refurbishing it back to its original bronze luster when it was first cast. They also designed a simple yet beautiful bell tower that will be installed in Convent Park at the exact spot of the original chapel bell tower.  An electromagnetic striker will be installed in the restored bell, setting it to automatically ring twice daily: at noon for the Angelus* and again at 6 pm. 

Our plan is to have the refurbished bell and new tower operational in time for the Sisters' celebration of St. Francis of Assisi on Sunday, October 13th. The bell itself, and the daily call to prayer, are important touchstones to our Sisters, connecting them to their spiritual, cultural, emotional and historical identities.  The new bell tower will bring great comfort to our Sisters, especially those living here, as they hear the lovely chimes ring out once again.

Campaign to Restore and Bring Home Clara Bell

We have raised nearly half of the funds needed to refurbish the bell, design and construct the bell tower, transport and install the bell, and landscape around the completed bell tower. Today we are asking former members, St. Mary Academy alumnae, and others who remember listening to and praying the Angelus to the beautiful chimes of the Clara bell to help raise the remaining funds for this historic restoration. We hope you will consider making a donation!

There are two ways to donate

  1. Donate online via credit card, debit, PayPal, or Venmo.  Click here to donate.
  2. Write and mail your check made payable to The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. Write "Clara Bell" in the memo line.  Mail to:  The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, Office of Advancement, 3221 S. Lake Dr., St. Francis, WI 53235

For other ways of giving, please contact Nancy Ketchman, Director of Advancement, at 414-294-7329 or


*The Angelus is a short pause in the day for people to reflect on the Incarnation, the role of Mary in salvation history, and the importance of prayer and devotion. To learn more, click here. 

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