ALBUQUERQUE (AP) _ Community members gathered at Sacred Heart Church to break ground on a new bell tower designed around steel beams from the World Trade Center.
“This is a very special day,” the Rev. James Moore said during Tuesday’s event. “What a way to end an old year and begin a new year.”
The Catholic church and its twin bell towers were torn down in the mid-1970s because of structural problems, and its two bronze bells disappeared. The church was rebuilt without bell towers.
One bell was found recently in a back yard, and church officials began efforts to build a tower. Those efforts took a turn after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Those leading the project came up with the idea of asking New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for two small pieces of World Trade Center steel to include in the design.
The group found out in May that it would be given the steel, and headed to New York City to retrieve it.
“`We arrived at ground zero and it was very solemn,” said John Garcia, executive director of the Barelas Community Development Corp. “Our lives in this country had changed forever and the lives in our community of Barelas were going to change.”
The two pieces of metal were hauled by truck to Albuquerque. People came to touch the steel every time there was a stop.
The bell tower will be about five stories tall and behind it will be a small chapel.
“We’re going to put the column upright, and it will be inside the bell tower, shooting straight up into the tower,” Garcia said. “And the floor beam will be put up against the column as it would have been in Tower 2.”
Included in the bell tower will be a pictorial history of the church, Sept. 11, the beams and the bell.
Nearly $200,000 has been raised for construction. Donations have ranged from $1 to $25,000. The project is expected to be finished in May.
“It’s really amazing how this project has brought our community together,” Moore said. “People have just been very supportive of this project because it’s bringing the community alive again.”