Hitting the right note at Morpeth

Morpeth’s Edith Walz could be called the matriarch of the music ministry team at Immaculate Conception Church, since she’s been playing the organ there for 61 years.

She sees her contribution as complementing the vocalists and guitarists who now minister with her at Mass every Sunday.

Each member of the group – comprising Loretto Austin and her son Joseph, Kate Bartlett, Christine Eagar, Margaret Hoffman, Kevin Mills and Brian Murphy sees the ministry as enhancing the parish worship and echoing the liturgy of the Word and of the Eucharist.

Kevin, Kate and Christine are guitarists and Loretto, Margaret, Brian and Kate lead the community in singing. Joseph provides percussion as well as lowering the average age!

Selection of hymns is an important dimension of any music ministry, and while Edith has the main responsibility here, there is collaboration. It’s not unheard of for a change midway through Mass, as Loretto says, “Sometimes in the homily, you can almost hear the song in the back of your mind, and we all look at one another…”

As well as playing and singing every Sunday, there are special feasts and occasions. Kevin says, “We go on the road once a year” – to the cemetery, for Mass during November, the month of the holy souls. 

Christine nominates the friendship that the group embodies as a great gift and it’s obvious that they enjoy each other’s company and the mutual support that’s developed over time. This means that the commitment to regular practice, extending the repertoire and planning for feasts and seasons is enjoyable. 

Chisholm Pastoral Region’s Fr Paul O’Neill says, “Every time I preside at Sunday morning Mass at Morpeth, I find the music ministry wonderful. The music is played with great enthusiasm and energy and the people really respond. As St Augustine said, ‘Sing once, pray twice!’ The singing at Morpeth certainly helps us to pray well together.”

It’s not unusual for members of the congregation to express their appreciation for the way in which the music enhances the liturgy, and visitors are sometimes surprised, given that it’s no mean feat to bring a congregation to full voice at 7.15am, especially in winter!

As Edith says, “It’s a really good community.”

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Tracey Edstein Image
Tracey Edstein

Tracey Edstein is a member of the Raymond Terrace Parish and a freelance writer with a particular interest in church matters.