Catholic Sentinel photo by Jon DeBellis
Pedro Rubalcava in his office at Oregon Catholic Press.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Jon DeBellis
Pedro Rubalcava in his office at Oregon Catholic Press.
When Pedro Rubalcava was 14 he was placed in charge of music at his parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brawley, Calif.

The second son of nine children, Pedro had already been leading music at a Mass held weekly at his home for farmworkers and their families, whose schedules didn't always allow for Mass on Sundays.

And so began a life of Catholic liturgical ministry for Pedro, who this year was selected to receive the Faithful Servant Award presented by the Southwest Liturgical Conference.

Now director of Hispanic ministries for Oregon Catholic Press, Pedro travels the country leading liturgical workshops. He will receive the award as part of the conference's 52nd annual SWLC Study Week, in Beaumont, Texas, Jan. 22-24.

Pedro has spent his life studying, preparing and contemplating Catholic liturgy. He has worked in parishes, at the diocesan level, for religious orders and publishing companies in the areas of youth and young adult ministry, catechesis, music and intercultural worship — all because of his fascination of the expression of faith.

"The whole idea of expressing my faith intrigued me, as did the cultural aspect of it," said Pedro in his office at Oregon Catholic Press.

Because of his interest and involvement in liturgical ministry at his home parish, there were always people who supported his vocations quest.

His quest eventually led him to seminary at St. Francis College Seminary for the San Diego Diocese where he served as music director of the seminary. He was in charge of providing music for the Liturgy of the Hours, Mass every day, and once a week with the campus ministry Mass schedule.

During this time, it was a Filipino priest from San Bernadino, Father Honesto Badilla, who encouraged Pedro, no matter where life took him, to continue to be a teacher of the liturgy, particularly with Hispanic communities.

Pedro's eventual calling led him to become a husband and father, but he's always stuck by Father Badilla's advice.

He finished his religious studies degree, started his master's degree in practical theology, helped begin a liturgy training program for Hispanics in San Diego, and began leading liturgy training workshops all over California.

Those workshops led to contacts at the North American Liturgical Resources company, who was interested in recording some of Pedro's original music. That music became the album, 'Amanecer,' which earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Mexican-American Performance. The other nominees were Los Lobos, Emilio Navaira, Los Tigres del Norte and Narsico Martinez.

"The recognition [from the SWLC] is an honor, but it is a challenge to do more," he adds. "I'm hopeful that what I do is a reflection of who I'm trying to reflect."