MANILA, Oct. 27, 2011— A Catholic diocese would seek ownership of century-old bells recently returned from United States to the Philippine government.
Monsignor Andres Valera, vicar general of the Diocese of Malolos, said the diocese has the right to own the two bells if indeed they are church properties.
“If they will return it to the Church that would be a welcome development,” Valera said. “But I think that should really be returned to us if indeed they are properties of the Church.”
“Definitely we will also conduct our own studies about the bells and discuss our plans about it,” he said.
Valera said they were surprised to learn that two bells, reportedly taken from a still unknown church in Meycauayan town during the World War II, have been returned to the Philippines.
He admitted the diocese have no idea about the bells, although he hinted that they probably belong to the Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, one of the oldest churches, in Meycauayan.
It is also among the largest parish in the Malolos diocese founded by the Franciscans in 1578, and currently has an estimated population of about 80,000 parishioners.
Also in this church, he said a Spanish Franciscan and a Friar-Saint, San Pedro Bautista, who was persecuted in Japan, served as one of the clergy.
Valera said that a church bell, normally, has inscription indicating where it came from, from what parish and who donated it.
“The church bells have names, so anybody cannot just claim it,” he added.
Earlier, the Philippine Consulate in Chicago reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila that it has recovered the important artifacts that were reportedly taken from a Meycauayan Church in 1899.
Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim traveled to Omaha in Nebraska on October 8 to formally receive the artifact from Sister Judith Frikker, President of the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community.
Sister of Mercy archivist in Omaha, Monte Kniffen, discovered the artifact in July from a set of properties that were originally in the possession of the religious congregation convent in Red Bluff in California.
How the bells reached the said convent remains a question but Kniffen said that perhaps a small museum or a family could have turned it over to the convent after noting that they were church bells.
A placard on the block of wood says the bells were taken from a church in Meycauayan, Philippines, “after bombardment by Utah Battery March 29, 1899 by P.O. Thomas, Co. A Battalion of Engineers”.
No research yet has been done towards the verification of the information contained in the inscription of the bells that are set to be turned over by the Consulate to the Philippine National Museum.
“Definitely we will also conduct our own studies about the bells and discuss our plans about it,” Valera said. [CBCPNews]