Pope honours musical life

Last updated 11:01 23/12/2013
Southland Times photo

Josy Van Empel with her apostolic blessing.

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Her 85 years have been full of music and now she has a signed certificate from the Pope acknowledging it.

Invercargill resident Josy Van Empel, 85nte, has been playing the organ at St Patrick's Church for 40 years, an achievement that has been acknowledged by Pope Francis.

The large framed certificate was handed to a surprised Mrs Van Empel at the church a few weeks ago, and now hangs proudly on her living room wall.

The certificate says: ''The Holy Father Francis cordially imparts the requested apostolic blessing to Jozephine Van Empel in acknowledgement of her many years as organist at St Patrick's Church Invercargill, New Zealand.

''Mrs Van Empel's life has been full of music from an early age.

After nagging her parents for years, she was taught how to play the piano at the age of eight and has not stopped playing since.

Her role as a piano student changed to one of a qualified music teacher and she has played for events such as gymnastics, birthday dances, weddings and funerals. 

Mrs Van Empel, originally from Holland, moved to Invercargill in 1951 and continued to play the piano as a hobby before starting her 40-years of playing for the church.

The role was a privilege, she said.

Her seven children are all musical and two of them are qualified music teachers, she said.

''It runs in the family.''

Mrs Van Empel said she felt honoured about receiving the blessing and even though she had stopped playing for the church she planned to continue playing at home.


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- The Southland Times


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