June 25, 2018
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Concert, rededication of St. Mary’s organ moved to Holy Family in Old Town set

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

OLD TOWN, Maine — A heavy piece of a shuttered Orono church lives on in Holy Family Catholic Church.

A concert at 2 p.m. Sunday will celebrate and rededicate the 103-year-old organ moved two years ago from St. Mary’s Catholic Church to the larger Old Town church.

It turned out that moving the 350-pound wind box, a distribution box for the pipes, and the nearly 500-pound bellows, which pumps air into the organ’s wind reserve, along with the 750 pipes was the beginning, not the end, of the organ’s journey.

The organ, a 1906 Estey Opus 325 constructed in Brattleboro, Vt., was moved from St. Mary Catholic Church on Main Street in Orono to Holy Family in November 2009. St. Mary’s held its final Mass on Jan. 1 of that year.

The Orono church was closed and sold when the Resurrection of Our Lord Parish was formed. In addition to Holy Family, the parish includes the two St. Ann Catholic churches on Indian Island and in Bradley and Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Church adjacent to the University of Maine.

“When we moved it here, it was in perfect condition,” the Rev. Wilfred “Bill” Labbe, pastor of the parish, said recently. “But once it was here, the pipes got damaged by rain. Water was leaking in from the steeple and getting into them.”

It turned out that Holy Family’s steeple was leaning about 13 degrees, causing water to get into the organ, the priest said. The cost of repairs totaled about $300,000, all of it raised within the parish.

“Our parishioners are very, very, very generous,” Labbe said. “We’re not rich, but we have what we need.”

The church also has an electric organ it uses regularly. So far, the pipe organ has been used for Masses on Christmas, Easter and special occasions such as weddings.

“We don’t hear if often enough,” Labbe said of the Estey. “People are thrilled to hear it. It reminds them of times gone by.”

Future plans include adding more pipes to the organ, since it was built with 750 pipes for the much smaller St. Mary’s, the priest said.

“It’s a little undersized for where we are. We hope we’ll be able to expand it, add some different racks.”

The organ is unable to create trumpet or specialty sounds that larger pipe organs can.

The concert will feature six organists from churches in Greater Bangor performing a variety of church and classical music styles, according to Tom Jones, an organist who has helped organize the concert.

For information about the concert, call 827-4000.

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