Betty McCaffrey, choir director of St. Paul’s Shettleston for over 40 years, until she retired due to ill health, died on 4 February after a long battle with cancer. She was a church musician who gave the lie to those who argued that church choirs died with Vatican II and that our church music traditions were lost as a result. Betty was a lovely, gentle, unassuming and encouraging musician to whom many owed their grounding in and enthusiasm for music. She was undoubtedly filled with the goodness of God, and with such an unassuming style that probably many people didn’t realise what it was that moved them about her until later.
St. Paul’s was crowded for her funeral Mass, and the choir of St. Paul’s, under its present choir director, Sr. Margaret Rose Bradley, was joined by members of the St. Mungo Singers (with whom Betty and her husband John had links going back many decades) and the neighbouring St. Joseph’s Tollcross Choir. The principal celebrant, parish priest Fr. John Campbell, was joined by Mgr. Gerry Fitzpatrick and Fr. Kieran Brady.
In his homily, Fr. Campbell, referring to the First Reading from Genesis, said that God would look at Betty, his creation, and see that indeed she was good, very good. He would see her selflessness to family and friends, and to the church through her God- given talent of music. This talent had been exercised for others not just in the church but in the wider community – she had been instrumental in the setting up of the East End Festival. For her great services to the church, she had been awarded the Bene Merenti. She had served God with an open and undivided heart – truly a “Bene Merenti”!
Betty was a great example to church musicians everywhere, making use of music resources old and new to support the community in its prayer and liturgy.