By Con McHugh

On Sunday 30 April Archbishop Bernard Longley visited Our Lady of the Wayside, Shirley, to celebrate the 10am Mass. During this Mass he blessed the recommissioned Church Organ.

At the start of Mass, Archbishop Bernard spoke to the congregation:

"I'm really delighted to be with you today as we come together this morning for the blessing and rededication of your parishes newly restored Thomas Sheffield's hybrid pipe organ. I thank Father Andy for inviting me and I am very conscious that we owe a debt of gratitude to a great number of fellow parishioners, benefactors, musicians and technical experts whom I welcome especially to this Mass in your name and on behalf of the parish with Father Andy and Deacon Sean. I first of all, want to thank your organist, Marcus Wheatley, who had the original vision to refurbish the organ and who is overseeing the project on behalf of the parish. Supported by advice from Professor David Saint and Mr Stephen Lansberry.

"Today, it is also very fitting that we recall all those parishioners who contributed so much to the musical life of this parish. Former members of the choir and in particular we pray for the repose of the souls of your former organist Peter Barnett. We remember him and his family today. This work was undertaken, as you will know, by Jeremy Meager and Richard Lowe from Cotswold Hybrid Organs. And we thank you both in the hope that you are here today.

"Thanks to you both for your wonderful expertise and also for your sensitivity to the religious character of the setting and the purpose of the organ here at Our Lady of the Wayside. Rebuilding such an organ, as you know well, is an expensive undertaking, but the project received generous and great encouragement from a grant of £5,000 from the Michael Marsh Foundation. And I also thank representatives of the Foundation and the Fund who are with us this morning. Those are some of the highlights of the project, but I know it was one that was truly owned by all of you, the parishioners. And on behalf of the clergy, I thank you for raising the magnificent sum of £30,000 to ensure that future generations can enjoy and be inspired by this beautiful organ for many years to come.

"In this morning's Mass, we have an opportunity to reflect on the transfiguring effects of music in the liturgy enhancing and drawing out the meaning of the Scriptures and enriching the prayers that guide us through our celebration of the sacraments. Our liturgical music can really draw us deeper into a deeper appreciation of the things of faith and into a profounder experience of the Lord in our prayer, especially during the Easter season.

"And so it's with these thoughts in mind that I invite you to continue seated, as we now bless the organ, newly refurbished, and invoke its own voice in praise of God."

After Mass there was an opportunity to meet the Archbishop over tea and coffee in the parish hall. Many of the parishioners took the opportunity to greet the Archbishop.

A lovely occasion with some wonderful music that was very well attended.

Photo Gallery

Our Lady of the Wayside - Blessing of  recommissioned Organ

About the work undertaken by Cotswold hybrid organs

Video blessing of recommissioned church Organ

Video of Archbishop's Pastoral letter for 4th Sunday of Easter

Live stream recording of Mass 

Discover Our Lady of the Wayside