Non-Catholic organist?

I play the organ–at an amateur level. I’m autodidact and in no way a diplomated organist. I’m not Catholic. Would it be rude or wrong if I offered to play when the ordinary organist isn’t there? (Eg. evening Mass on solemnities that aren’t Sundays, like today.)


As far as not being a Catholic is concerned, that’s no problem.

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Our main piano player is not Catholic. He is hired to play with the main choir.

We’ve had a non-Catholic play for Mass. I guess as long as you play the music chosen by Father for Mass and that it is preapproved by Him then it should all be good.

Why would you be offended??? Some of the best parish musicians I know aren’t Catholic.

I’m hoping this is just a typo…



I know there were non-Catholic members who were part of Catholic families who contributed more to the parish than most of the Catholics in that parish. Music ministry being one place where they could contribute. And, contrariwise, I have a professional musician family member who made a living by heading up the music ministry for synagogues and a variety of Protestant churches. I can think of two Catholic churches he worked at-- one’s a cathedral, and the other was a large church that had a population in the tens of thousands.

That said, there’s a big gulf between Catholic music ministry and, say, Baptist music ministry. A lot of our Protestant brethren pay their musicians very healthy, whereas a lot of our Catholic parishes have miniscule budgets, if any, and rely mostly on volunteers.

So, if you were wanting to do it merely as a way to contribute, I think that would be great. If you were wanting to do it as a form of employment, though, I suspect that the majority of smaller Catholic parishes would be extremely disappointing.

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My comment was uncharitable, I’ll give you that much (and remove it). Yours above, however, seems much more offensive - no pun intended.


I’ve known a lot of church musicians. My impression is that most church musicians either aren’t Christians at all or belong to a denomination other than the one in which they undertake their musical activities. Possibly the most famous living church musician in the world would be John Rutter, who is not a Christian. James O’Donnell, now the organist of Westminster Abbey, is a Catholic, but he has played the organ at an Anglican college in Cambridge, then a Catholic cathedral, and now at an Anglican church. Most church choirs that I have known have included a mixture of Anglicans, Protestant non-conformists, Catholics, and atheists.


I am modifying this to it depends on the Church and Parish. We have all denominations join us in the Choirs at times. Mainly for their skills and they like practicing or playing the organ, or come and play for special masses, flutes, violins, even their voice, or at funerals. We do have a huge event that last several weeks where some absolutely delightful choirs and musicians come in to give concerts and get together. We charge money for that, and this event is where our Pipe Organ is kept in operational condition for the rest of the year. It culminates with the interdenominational Carols night.

No one is paid though, we are all volunteer.

we have a beautiful voice belonging to an Eastern religion member, I am not sure if it is the one in communion with Rome or not, ( I get confused). On special occasions that voice is wonderful to have.

What about the architects who design our churches and the builders who build them? Do they all have to be Catholics as well? And the artists who produce the statues, paintings, and stained glass windows?

What about the repairman Father calls in to fix the organ when a pedal jams or a pipe has suddenly gone offkey? Would it be impious to allow a non-Catholic do that job?


Of course not! Ask away. IMO, you are always and everywhere welcome and organ music is refreshingly classic.

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It’s up to each diocese. Our bishop allows non-Catholic musicians to play organ/piano/other instruments, and also cantor. If not for non-Catholic musicians, quite a few parishes would have no cantors or instrumentalists.

Would you argue against a bishop, an apostle of Holy Mother Church?


Yeah, me too!

Should we check for Catholic ID cards before allowing anyone in our Churches?

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Certainly having non-Catholics in the choir or as a musician is not a problem. The problem arises when a non-Catholic is hired as the director of the choir.

How so? If they understand the liturgy, it should still work out just fine. (I’ve seen it happen. I’ve also seen poorly educated Catholics botch the job.)

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This is up to the pastor. Our parish does hire non-Catholics as musicians, and we always need back-up organists both for regular/special masses and for funerals.

As an aside, what is a “diplomated organist”?

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And didn’t St. Pope John Paul II have a personal Jewish maestro, American conductor Gilbert Levine, leading the orchestra in the Vatican? I recall a story on “60 minutes” about this.


Well it is good the Church takes a different view from you. What better way for a potential convert to have them exposed to the Mass every Sunday.

They are being paid for their ability to play. In our parish, our pianist is paid to play music for the Catholic Mass. It is NOT entertainment, it is the music of the Mass.

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I think an organist (or anyone working for or with the Church) can be of any faith, provided that they understand the way the Church works regarding authority and that they have no input into what’s actually played unless asked.

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