Organ and Choral Scholarships

Help continue Liturgical Music Scholarship at St. Francis! 

St. Francis of Assisi Parish and Choir would like to offer scholarships to train young people in the skills necessary for leading music in the Catholic tradition, as celebrated at St. Francis.

In offering this scholarship it is envisaged the recipient will develop in the following areas:

  • Training in vocal development, choral singing and choral directing skills, as well as in organ playing, for organ scholarships.
  • Development of liturgical knowledge and history of Catholic liturgical tradition.
  • Development of practical skills to facilitate choral singing and leading of a worshipping assembly, with choir and celebrants.

More details on the terms of the proposed Scholarship and Scholar’s Duties are contained here.

Our Director of Music, Noel Debien (0417 291 388) or email, would be very pleased to discuss questions regarding sponsorship of an Organ/Choral Scholar with anyone who may be interested in supporting this initiative.

History of liturgical scholarship at St Francis


In 2015, the Choir of St. Francis of Assisi Paddington celebrated the 20th anniversary of its re-establishment as a robed liturgical choir, under the former Director of Music, Bernard Kirkpatrick, in 1995. Under its current director, Noel Debien, since 2006, the choir committee has been building on the legacy Bernard enhanced from previous generations of Paddington parish musicians.

An anonymous donor came forward and contributed $1500 for the scholarship in 2008, and another $5,000 personally for the scholarship 2006-2007. The parish is deeply grateful to each of them. A generous donor also supported our Organ/Choral scholar for 2005 and 2006 – giving $2,500 personally.

St Francis OrganOver the last 20 years, the music ministry at St. Francis has continued to flourish as a dynamic team of committed liturgical musicians, serving the 10.00am Sunday solemn liturgy and major feasts. Its mission of encouraging the active participation of the laity in the sung liturgy is complemented by a program of fine sacred liturgical music ranging from Gregorian Chant through the glorious repertoire of 16th century renaissance polyphony, classical works with orchestral accompaniment to modern contemporary music of the highest musical and liturgical standard.

At this significant point in the our parish music ministry, it is important to look forward to future developments to consolidate and sustain the unique contribution which is made to our parish, as well as the example it offers to other parishes in the diocese and further afield. Without doubt, interest in fine sacred music is alive and well. The proliferation of sacred music repertoire programmed into secular concert halls, the abundant use of polyphony in films and on CD, and the global revival of interest in Gregorian Chants revealed in pop-music charts and remixes demonstrate this interest. On the other hand, its application in the liturgy in most Catholic churches today has not been widespread, having been displaced by other music styles more in keeping with music from 1970 than 1170.

The reasons for the displacement of the “Treasury of Sacred Music” from our churches are many and complex, but the perpetuation of the tradition within the church can only be maintained by training music leaders with the knowledge and skills in the specialised areas of organ/keyboard playing, vocal and choral knowledge and liturgical practice.

20151025_095946_resizedTo this end, St. Francis Parish continues to encourage young musicians with the interest in pursuing these skills, and so passing on our musical traditions. The best means of achieving this is to continue the Organ/Choral Scholarship offered to a young person at university level who demonstrates the interest and skills required of a liturgical music leader.

We therefore continue to seek further sponsor/s for an Organ/Choral scholarship to inaugurate this training process. Such an offering might be offered in memory of a deceased loved one, or anonymously, and would be a unique and practical way of making an invaluable contribution to the life of our church. The parish has been blessed with gifted and enthusiatic recipients of the scholarships, including James Dixon, Daniel Canaris, Elizabeth Williams and Michael Butterfield.


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