Music loving priest Prof Monsignor Vladimir Felzmann, AKA Fr Vlad, has set himself the epic challenge of completing 52 laps of the Sir Mo Farah Athletics track 83 times over the coming year to raise £500,000 to replace the St Mary’s University, Twickenham Chapel Organ.
Fr Vlad set himself the challenge to combine his love for music and sport. The two numbers in the challenge also represent special significance to Fr Vlad, he will be completing 52 laps, to celebrate his 52 years as a priest, 83 times to celebrate his 83rd year of life. So far Fr Vlad has raised just short of £40000 from a range of supporters.
With 52 laps of the Sir Mo Farah Athletics Track coming in at 20.8km, just 300m short of a half marathon, Fr Vlad is aiming to complete each of his 83 track sessions in around four hours. Through the challenge he will complete a total of 1726 kilometres, or 1066 miles. Which equates completing the distance from St Mary’s University all the way to the edge of Europe in Cadiz, Spain.
Overlooking the main Piazza, the Chapel is at the heart of the St Mary’s University life. With Mass said there daily for the local and University community, it is also an important venue for Christian communities.
In recent years the Chapel has welcomed Pope Benedict XVI, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople of the Eastern Orthodox Church Bartholomew I of Constantinople, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rt Rev Rt Hon Prof Baron Rowan Williams, and the then Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland Rt Rev Richard Clarke.
My aim is to give back to our Chapel its voice so that the beauty of its music may, once again, awaken and open hearts to our Creator, God.
The University wants to expand and enhance these current uses, while also breaking new ground in pursuing linkages between music and disciplines such as theology and drama. St Mary’s will also utilise it in extending our outreach to local schools, unlocking the Chapel's full potential as a resource for music, art, and religious education.
Fr Vlad, who volunteered at the London 2012 Games as a Chaplain, will pass the time completing his challenge by being joined by St Mary’s students, staff, and alumni for laps of the track.
Speaking of the challenge, Fr Vlad said, “My aim is to give back to our Chapel its voice so that the beauty of its music may, once again, awaken and open hearts to our Creator, God. Having trained as a Civil Engineer before becoming a priest, I believe that walk trumps talk. As Matthew 25,40 teaches, we shall be judged on what we did – not just said, , so I’m putting on my walking shoes to make sure the wonderful Chapel at St Mary’s that means so much to me can fulfil its potential.”
Composer and Conductor Sir James MacMillan CBE said of the challenge, “There is something wonderful and life-enhancing when a commitment to musical excellence, a concern for beauty in the liturgy and a deep knowledge of and education in the arts all come together. These aspirations have always been dear to me.
"Therefore I am delighted that St Mary’s University is demonstrating ambition in all these fields as it approaches the celebration of its 175th anniversary. Central to this determination is the desire to give new life to the place of the organ and the profound music it can make in the University Chapel, both in liturgical and concert contexts. The renewal of this instrument would be a significant step forward and I am delighted to lend my support to this appeal.”
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