Thursday, 13 April 2023 09:08

Retired St. Paul Parish organist honored for five decades of service

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04 16 2023 wm. bust plaqueEarlier this year, Bill Bust was presented with his choir robe and a plaque honoring the 50 years he served St. Paul Parish in Highland as the organist for the church and it’s choir. Retired St. Paul Parish organist honored for five decades of service
Managing Editor

HIGHLAND — After spending five decades as the organist for St. Paul Parish and choir in Highland, as well as 50 years working as service manager at the Wicks Pipe Organ Company, also in Highland, William “Bill” Bust finally retired when he was over 80 years old.   

Although Bust stepped several aside years ago, the pandemic and all its repercussions — along with Bust’s health issues — caused a delay in his official retirement celebration, which took place earlier this year. The current St. Paul choir director, Andrea Henze, arranged a gathering at Bust’s home, where he was presented with a plaque in his honor and was also given one of his most prized possessions, his St. Paul choir robe. 

It was about 1970 when Msgr. Lawrence Wiskirchen, who was pastor of St. Paul Parish, asked Bust to oversee the music ministry at the parish. Even though he had his doubts about taking over as organist for the parish and the choir while he was working full-time at Wicks Pipe Organ Company, Bust agreed. In the next decades, he went on to serve with several other pastors: Father Martin “Mitz” Mangan, Msgr. David Peters, Father Chuck Edwards, and his current pastor, Father Pat Jakel.

Because he had installed the organ at St. Paul Parish and also played it, Bust said he naturally became attached to it. “There were times when I had to tell myself, ‘This organ isn’t mine.  It belongs to St. Paul’s.’” He adds that there are very few Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois that do not have a Wicks organ. 

04 16 2023 wm. bust plaque close“I’m so lucky to have spent so much time at St. Paul’s,” says Bust, who was at one time a seminarian in Texas.  “I have always had a great love for liturgy and we had a lot of glorious liturgies here. Not everybody is able to spend 50 years as a parish musician. Musicians are very important to the liturgy and the liturgy has always been important to me.” 

Bust says he has great memories of his time at St. Paul’s, when he often played every Mass at the church, including the years he played five or six Masses on weekends and all funerals and weddings. “I look back and really don’t know how I did it,” he says. “And you know, because of all my work, I was never able to spend Christmas with my mother all those years.” He was also instrumental in playing for the St. Paul choir, led for more than five decades by his good friend, the late Sam Schwarztrauber. 

“At one point we had about 40 members in the mixed choir, and we had some glorious liturgies,” Bust says. “One of our main concerns was the we were not up there to perform, but to assist the congregation to sing.” Of course, at times the choir did entertain at events for religious sisters and others.” He says Henze is doing a great job with the choir. 

Henze notes that Bust went “above and beyond” in his 50 years of service. “I became director of the St. Paul choir in 2018 when Sam Schwarztrauber retired,” she says. “I had some big shoes to fill, and am so grateful for the guidance and encouragement that Bill continues to give. 

“While Bill was organist at St. Paul, he took great care to make sure the music liturgy at our Masses was celebrated beautifully and properly,” Henze says. “His focus was always praising God and helping others to do the same. He continues to support the long tradition of excellence our St. Paul choir has demonstrated for more than 50 years.” 

Bust concludes that now that he is in possession of his choir robe, he has definite plans for it, whenever God calls him home. “We had some very good times at St. Paul, but when I retired, all I really wanted was my choir robe,” he says. “I want to be buried in it.  That’s right, I want to be laid out in my robe!”