Last month, I had a wedding for which Hector Salcedo, our music director and organist, was playing. Before the wedding began, he told me that a section of the organ had gone out again disrupting what he could and could not play for the ceremony. This was not the first time this has happened. Our electronic Allen organ installed with the new church in 2008 has been going out on us for the past few years. You may not have noticed because Hector Salcedo is a very talented musician.
So, we have a dilemma: Do we pay for all the electrical upgrades on a dated instrument, purchase a brand new electronic organ, or invest in a fully functioning pipe organ? Any of these pathways is going to be expensive, but it is also the mind of the Catholic Church that a parish church ought to have an organ, especially a pipe organ.
This is what the Second Vatican Council said in its document on the liturgy for sacred music: “The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 120).
The pipe organ is actually a symbol of the church at prayer. Think about it. When we gather to pray together at Mass, all of our voices – young and old, male and female, low and high – come together to create a harmony at prayer. In a pipe organ, the pipes – big and small, reeds and flutes, low and high – blend together to create a harmony. As a wind instrument, it mimics and accompanies our voices in prayer.
Two years ago, we found a local pipe organ at the Northminister Presbyterian Church in Broad Ripple for sale. Their congregation was purchasing and upgrading to a million dollar pipe organ. After playing the organ for sale and having it inspected, we purchased it for $20,000 in September 2019. The over 1,800 pipes and console were removed from Northminister and placed in storage while we consulted organ companies about completing the project here at St. Malachy. Our purchased organ was recently appraised at $300,000.
We contracted with Peragallo Pipe Organ Company in June 2021 and in July we began sharing the good news that St. Malachy is planning to install a breathing pipe organ in our church. After a short period of asking for support, a small number of parishioners have donated/pledged $540,000 towards this project. I am humbled by their generosity and desire to enhance the liturgical life of our parish.
I know that there are parishioners questioning: Why do this if St. Malachy is still in debt? The reality is that St. Malachy is on a twenty year payment plan to pay off our debt to the Archdiocese. We have been very good stewards regarding our debt. We make extra payments whenever we can and have paid over one million dollars in principle since I have arrived. I believe that we can both continue to be good stewards of our debt and facilities, while investing in capital improvements, especially those that enhance the liturgical and spiritual experience at church.
This past summer, we have invested in multiple other capital improvement projects like a new sound system, new audio-visual equipment, and preventative maintenance work including drainage tile around the school, repaving and resealing the parking lot, and façade sealing work on the church. This project is one more way to improve community life at St. Malachy because it helps us glorify God at Mass.
In order to complete the work, we need to have everything cleaned and tuned. We need to update each manual wind chest and purchase a new blower, which generates the wind for the pipes. A new oak casing that houses the pipes must also be constructed.
We would also like to increase the palette of sounds this instrument could have by adding some new ranks. It would be a combination of real pipes, which are more expensive, and digital sounds meant to enrich the range of sounds for our purposes in a Catholic church.
Therefore, we need to raise $42,540 to reach the minimum work to complete this project and $137,260 in order to complete all the modifications. You can see the brochures for more details about the additions proposed.
I believe God has blessed us here at St. Malachy, and has led us to this point of unveiling this project to the wider parish community. I hope you would pray that we do what God wants us to do but also listen to His voice if He is inviting you to be a part of this project. Thank you for all you do for our parish.
In Jesus, through Mary and St. Joseph,