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Published by: Gary Merritt On: 05/30/2018 Under: Church (433 Hits)    

Divine Sanctuary Renovation Project St. Patrick – White Lake Council #13319

Divine Sanctuary program

Tucked in a far corner, behind the choir, was the smallish slowly failing 50-year old pipe organ.  The instrument was not loud enough for the large St. Patrick’s Church in White Lake, Michigan, and many audible voids were very noticeable towards the back.

St. Patrick’s new music minister, Aaron Kaleniecki, had a deep love for playing the organ, and the rather poor musical situation left him dreaming of something different. He dreamt of something that would fill the church with great sound, enveloping every person in every pew.

The parish’s pastor of 30 years, Father Tom Meagher, shared the same dream.

Conversations on the possibilities led to the discovery of a large unused Kilgen organ previously installed at St. Benedict Church in Highland Park.  An internet search also discovered another smaller Kilgen organ, also available for the taking, at a Serbian Orthodox Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

So the divine vision became clearer for both pastor and music minister - renovate the entire St. Patrick church sanctuary, and obtain, refurbish and install the two Kilgen organs there.

Recognizing the extent of the project, Father Tom recruited St. Patrick Grand Knight Stan Politowicz, and Immediate Past Grand Knight John Wisely, to join him in forming a Sanctuary Renovation Steering Committee.  Stan volunteered to chair the committee, knowing he had an army of Knights ready and willing to assist whenever and wherever needed.

Many tasks ensued over the months that followed for the Knights of Council #13319.  A large parish-wide fundraising effort was led by Father Tom and the Knights.  The larger Kilgen organ was retrieved from a storage warehouse in Detroit.  A team travelled to Massachusetts to disassemble and transport the smaller organ to Michigan.  And still there was the sanctuary renovation itself including removal of the old organ, choir riser, altar parts, walls and other structures, along with other demolition and clean-up.   Adding to the challenge, the sanctuary needed to be presentable for Masses each Saturday and Sunday, and for weddings and several First Communions on the calendar.

An old phrase was appropriately descriptive of the needed approach, ‘When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.’

Installation of the new organ and sanctuary parts began, and the Knights were again alongside Father Tom, unloading trucks, and stacking parts on pews and behind the kitchen.  As the first structures went up, it gave all a new sense of the grandeur of what was about to happen.  Our music minister, Aaron, explained the progress, and the details and hurdles to anyone interested.  And as the months went by, the instrument took shape.  Two additions, the Trompette en Chamade (horned trumpet) and the chimes, added to the anticipation and the conversation.

Finally, on November 26, 2017, Father Tom led the sanctuary dedication ceremony, and our packed church joined together in prayer, thanksgiving and blessing.  All were then entertained in grand style by three different organists, plus the Motor City Brass band.  It was an event to behold.

God’s grace, received in every Mass, is a powerful experience, with or without music and song.  But now through the work of so many, following where the Holy Spirit led them, St. Patrick Parish in White Lake Michigan has this wonderful new sanctuary and instrument. And the organ and music do exactly what had been hoped, enveloping every person in every pew.

We invite you to come to Mass with us, listen, and please bring your friends.