Editor's Note, Friday, Feb. 28: Due to the weather forecast, the March 2 fundraising event mentioned in this article has been moved to March 9.
Story by S.L. Hansen
RULO (SNR) - To help raise funds to help pay for a new organ, Immaculate Conception Parish in Rulo will host another bake sale in conjunction with the men’s group annual pork barbecue.
In June 2012, a new organ was installed, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous parishioner. The gift included a large portion of the cost and a no-interest loan to cover the remaining $15,000.
The parish had been without an organ for several years. The original organ installed in the 101-year-old church had long since been retired, and the one that replaced it in the 1950s was well beyond repair, according to two different experts.
Fortunately, several parishioners are talented musicians and were able to provide music at Mass on guitar. But organ music was still missed.
“Our church building is 100 years old,” said Ken Thiltges, whose family has been part of the parish for at least a century. “It’s traditional Gothic with tall ceilings… The building itself just calls for an organ.”
With the anonymous gift, the parish council was able to start shopping for an organ.
Thiltges, whose college sophomore son Stephen plays the organ for Mass, and whose daughter Elizabeth assists as organist when needed, was part of the search committee.
“It’s been a learning experience,” he said. “We did a lot of research.”
There are actually many different types of organs, and only a portion of those are appropriate for church installation. Furthermore, the Catholic liturgy calls for different settings than an organ that would be placed in, say, a church that primarily uses Southern Gospel music for worship.
The Rulo team visited several different churches to investigate their organ options, including Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton. They worked closely with Church Music Services to determine exactly what they needed.
The committee settled on a computer-enhanced electronic organ that delivers the sound of a pipe organ without taking up the necessary space of all the pipes – an ideal solution for a rural parish of 60 families.
Thiltges said that the new organ has made a positive difference at Mass in Rulo. The organ has taken over most of the liturgical music, although a few favorite contemporary songs are still played on guitar.
The organ, he said, is “perfect.”
“It fills the whole body of the church with a sound that you just don’t get from other instruments,” he said. “Even though other forms of music are great, throughout history the organ has been the primary inspirational instrument.”
Pastor Father David Oldham agreed.
“The new organ helps give us an opportunity to worship with music played on the instrument traditionally used by the Catholic Church,” he said. “A greater variety of hymns can be used at Mass.
“Also,” he added, “the acoustics of our church lend itself to the sound of an organ.”
Conscious of the sole anonymous parishioner’s generosity, the rest of the parish has worked hard to pay back the debt owed on the organ. In just about 18 months, the parish has been able to return $14,000 of the $15,000 loaned
A variety of fundraisers have come into play, beginning with a parish drive which raised the bulk of the necessary funds. A year ago, the bake sale during the annual pork barbecue was launched. Last summer, the parish hosted a successful raffle that went on for several months, including during the parish’s 150th anniversary celebration.
Many generous businesses donated items for the raffle, which ranged from religious products from Gloria Deo Catholic Books and Gifts in Lincoln, to beef, and even beautiful greeting cards donated by the Benedictine monks at Conception Abbey in nearby Conception, Mo.
Meanwhile, the choir has forwarded any donations they have received for singing at funerals or other events.
“I am grateful and pleased with the parish’s response to the fundraising efforts,” said Father Oldham. “Our parishioners have been very generous in their contributions.”
Now the parish is down to the last $1,000, and they are eager to pay it off. But Thiltges said that the organ bake sale fundraiser will likely be an annual event.
“We have an annual warranty payment of $600 every June,” he explained.
The parish committee would like to maintain the warranty so that any repair or maintenance costs in the future are kept to an absolute minimum. Money earned during the bake sale can help keep the warranty current.
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Editor’s Note: The bake sale will be held March 2 at the "Men’s Club Pork Barbecue" from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.