Basilica of the Sacred Heart to close for next phase of organ installation

Author: Kate Morgan

Pipe organ in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, 2012

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame will close for three weeks from Dec. 28 (Monday) through Jan. 15 (Friday) for the next phase of the installation of the new Murdy Family Organ. The Basilica will reopen for the 5 p.m. Vigil Mass on Jan. 16.

The new Murdy Family Organ, to be fully operational by Christmas 2016, will replace the current Holtkamp Organ. In 2013-14, the Basilica closed for renovations including the removal of carpeting and the installation of slate tile flooring to aid acoustics. This year’s closure will allow for workers to make space for the new Murdy Family Organ.

“The current Holtkamp Organ was not designed to be played as frequently as it is now, and the sound quality has continued to suffer,” said Andrew McShane, associate director for music and liturgy in the Office of Campus Ministry. “Two Masses each day along with choir rehearsals and ongoing student practice sessions have created serious operating issues. The Basilica has simply outgrown the current organ and there is a need for a larger, better functioning organ to occupy the space and sustain the Basilica for years to come.”

While the Basilica is closed, the Holtkamp Organ will be removed and work to reinforce the balcony from the basement to the loft will begin. Reinforcement is necessary as the Murdy Family Organ is substantially heavier than the existing organ. In addition, all of the pews in the west transept will be removed to make room for the choirs that will begin singing near the interim organ in January. The choirs will be relocated back to the choir loft once the Murdy Family Organ is functional.

The new Murdy Family Organ is being designed and built by Paul Fritts and Co. Organ Builders, based in Tacoma, Washington. The organ will be delivered in August 2016. The entire assembly and voicing process will take approximately four months to complete and will be accomplished by the Fritts team at night and during off hours. The organ, in addition to the new flooring installed in 2014, was made possible by a donation from Wayne and Diana Murdy.

While the Basilica is closed, all liturgies will be celebrated in the Sacred Heart Parish Crypt. A complete Mass schedule is online at

Through undergraduate, graduate, liturgical and music ministries, the Office of Campus Ministry fosters personal spiritual growth; encourages participation in the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church; supports other forms of worship and personal prayer; provides opportunities for pilgrimages, retreats and service; and seeks to enhance and develop lifelong faith formation. For more information, visit

Contact: Kate Morgan, associate director of communications, Office of Campus Ministry, 574-631-5241 (office), 574-440-4788 (mobile),