What Joe Vitacco has done at Our Lady of Refuge (OLR) in Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY is little short of miraculous and certainly way past amazing.
Here’s the place to go for the full story and then some: Our Lady of Refuge Church Pipe Organ
The following is just to pique your interest:
Our Lady of Refuge is a poor parish with immigrant parishioners whose priorities are more focused on survival and a pastor who has to care for them and keep an aging church building intact. Not much of a chance for a broken-down pipe organ here, right?
Wrong! Joe Vitacco heard this 1933 organ as a small child. In fact, it was the amazing sound of a pipe organ that lead to his developing a company that focused on producing high-quality recordings of great organ music.
Over the years, like many organs, neglect and environmental disasters (aka water) did their work to silence this historic instrument. When Vitacco approached the pastor, Fr. Perry said, “Do what you can.” And he did. And it was more than fixing a few pipes or replacing some leather. There were major structural issues that turned up as well.
Money was raised through social media, through Vitacco’s connections in the organ world, through parish barbeques, and the traditional “sponsor a pipe.” A background in sales and marketing didn’t hurt either. Vimeo clips and lots of local press got the word out in every direction. They raised over $250,000 from more than 1,500 individuals. And remember this is money being raised in the midst of a global economic recession. Talk about bull-dog determination! (Of course, the organ was originally purchased and installed in the Great Depression, so maybe that’s fitting.)
The instrument is back in place and the dedication concert will be played on October 18th by Olivier Latry, the titular organist of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Recordings and concerts are planned. And the people of the parish will have an instrument that will enrich Masses and all their sacramental life.
Wow! Read all about it, listen to the clips, make a donation, buy a ticket!