Farewell to Ged

Fr Neil Kelley provided this tribute for the September issue of our parish magazine Newslink  to mark Gerard Callacher's relinquishing of the post of Director of Music for the United Benefice.

I gather that when Fr. Richard wanted to appoint Ged as Director of Music at S. Faith’s there were complaints from some. I know of certain people (one of whom left after I arrived as I was the wrong appointment too!) who requested an audience with my predecessor only to tell him who should be given the job. And people claimed he was too young and inexperienced. How could he possibly do the job? It just goes to show how wrong our impressions can be, because at this stage in the game I don’t think any of us could imagine St. Faith’s choir without Ged. We have been quite rightly proud of our choir’s achievements over the past ten years. And those achievements have not just been seen or heard in S. Faith’s but in Cathedrals and Royal Chapels up and down the country as well as the medium of BBC1 TV and BBC Radio Merseyside. He has admirably built on the work of Jane Greengrass, Mike Foy and George Gilford and indeed all those who have served before.

Ged has endeared himself to all, young and old alike, and his commitment to the choir of S. Faith’s has often gone beyond duty to care, compassion and friendship in all kinds of ways.  A year or so ago  we tried  to put a contract  in place.  It took  about a year to do so,

and I hope I’m not speaking out of turn when I say that Ged didn’t really take to the idea! That’s fine – not everyone gets excited about bureaucracy and red tape (and we certainly need a few more priests to sit lightly to all that). But of course one of the reasons he never took to the idea is that Ged never saw his role in such black and white terms! His work often took him beyond services he was scheduled (and indeed paid) to play for, to helping out for all sorts of things when many other organists would have said no! If he was free, Ged would be found in a whole variety of churches playing for all kinds of services, as well as accompanying concerts, teaching and generally enjoying making music and encouraging others to do so. The young musicians of Liverpool and Sefton couldn’t have had a better person to teach and encourage them than their young (and even more young at heart) ‘Mr Callacher’.

In Ged the choir has had someone who has cared about not just their musical life but their individual lives too. He is a sympathetic listener, a person to offer practical help and has the great gift of knowing how to lighten a situation without taking away from any serious issues that may be present.

People of course ask silly questions: ‘Why do you want to be a priest when you could do something with your life?’ Needless to say such people never understand the concept of service and sacrifice, or less still vocation. Ged will take to his ministry a wealth of understanding, a wealth of people-skills, a deep understanding of Anglican liturgy and pastoral practice which many other Catholic seminarians will only ever hear of or read about. Certainly the future of the church, in ecumenical eyes, needs people like Ged to serve it.

The wife of a former curate said to me some years ago, people never leave St. Faith’s, they just move away! I hope that Ged will continue to be a friend of this community for many years to come and that he leaves for the seminary knowing he has our love, our support and our friendship.

Lord, you told us that ‘The harvest indeed is great but the labourers are few. Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into His harvest.’ As we thank you for the blessings we have received in this place through Ged’s years of faithful service and companionship, we ask you to strengthen him as he follows a new path to which You have called him. We pray for all those called to serve as priests, deacons and lay ministers:

Those whom You have called,
Those You are calling now,
Those You will call in the future.
May they be open and responsive to the call and privilege of serving your people.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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