In view of the parish project to have a grand pipe organ in our church be installed for use during liturgical services, I wish to share with you the following historical notes about the origins of its concept.
The following is based on the narrative provided by Milan Brandon, the Secretary of the Parish Pastoral Council.
Over 30 years ago, when we built the church, it was designed by architects Charles Moore and Renzo Zechetto to include a pipe organ against the back wall of the nave.
To accommodate that vision, the architect and engineer built a reinforced steel structure and concrete foundation specifically for the future organ. However, the project was put in the backburner when the church building was completed because funds were low since everything was built without incurring any long-term debt. Accordingly, a used organ was purchased for about $35,000 as a temporary placeholder until the pipe organ could be built.
As the years passed, the organ remained on the long-term plan, and requests for proposals to build one were solicited on two separate occasions (in 1993 and 1999) by Monsignor Clark.
The 1999 proposal from Harrison and Harrison (the organ builders who built the great organ of Westminster Abbey) was our starting point for the current project. However, more immediate needs always took priority (the school, the Diocese's Secondary Education Initiative, the school's activity center, etc.)
In 2018, after hitting our 30th anniversary, a group of founding parishioners committed the funds to begin the process of choosing a builder and designing a custom organ that would be appropriate functionally and aesthetically for Nativity's acoustics and architecture.
In 2021 it was decided to go with the organ designed by Casavant Freres - a master organ-builder that has been in business since the 1800's. This is the same company that built the extravagant instrument at Basilica Notre Dame du Montreal and many hundreds of others around the world. The company is also working with Nativity architect Renzo Zechetto to ensure that the geometry, size, and design of the instrument is entirely congruent with the existing church in every sense - to make it feel as if it was always there.
Upon receiving the recommendation of the Parish Finance and Pastoral Councils, I gave my blessing for the Grand Organ project. Moreover, despite the passage of decades, it is also notable that the Grand Organ is the only project that each Msgr Clark, Msgr Purcell, Msgr. Duncanson, Father Minh and I have played a role in shepherding into reality.
In that respect, it connects our entire Parish family, past and present, in a way that no other Parish initiative has connected us before.
Beyond our own parish unity and pride, we also look upon the organ as not only a means for the spiritual enrichment for our parish, but also as a gift to help build a deeper connection with our surrounding community.
The organ project is the result of the original intent of the founding parishioners and their founding pastor, and that every living past Nativity priest has expressed enthusiasm for the commencement of the project. We are finally able to accomplish something that, for far too long, has only been a dream. And we are doing so predominantly through designated gifts for the specific purpose of completing the long-term plan for our Parish.