r. Penkala was the founding Music Director of a program at Our Lady of Victory Church in State College PA, with ten vocal choirs, three handbell choirs, six organists, five apprentice organists, eight choir directors and assistants, and numerous cantors, soloists and instrumentalists.
This position was held for 22 years.
Along with the church music responsibilities, he also taught classroom music at Our Lady of Victory Elementary School [pre-school through grade eight] for 20 years.
Mr. Penkala was a key liturgist at the parish during those years.
He was Music Director/Organist at Saint Irenæus Church in Oakmont PA (near Pittsburgh) from 2002-2005.
He currently serves as Pastoral Associate for Liturgy and Music at the Parish of Saint James the Greater in Charles Town WV, directing the liturgy and music at the largest Catholic church in the state.
On sabbatical from parish duties, he served as Director of Sacred Music at the Pontifical North American College, Vatican City State, from 1991-1993.
This position involved planning and implementing music for all liturgical celebrations of the seminary.
In addition, he was called on to plan and execute music for various functions at Saint Peter's Basilica and other churches in Rome, and served as Music Director for numerous papal Masses in the private chapels of the Holy Father.
Mr. Penkala has chaired various committees, including the Altoona-Johnstown Diocesan Music Committee.
He served as dean of the State College Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Co-chairman of the Annual Junior Choir Festival, Founder of the Christmas Community Choir festival, Director of the Pipe Organ Encounter at Penn State University and adjunct faculty at Saint Paul's Seminary (Pittsburgh).
He has also served on the Altoona-Johnstown Liturgical Commission and as organizer and clinician at numerous diocesan workshops and seminars.
His awards include First Prize in an Organ Playing and Liturgy Competition sponsored by the Ministry of Healing, Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh PA; National Award (East Region) for Excellence in Liturgical Music presented by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.
He holds a Service Playing Certificate from the American Guild of Organists.
Mr. Penkala directed the Sanctuary Choir of Our Lady of Victory Church on three European tours (1987, 1989, 1991), singing in Munich, Salzburg, Venice, Florence, Assisi and Rome.
In Rome the choir sang concerts at Saint Ignatius Church, and sang for the Solemn Mass of Pentecost Sunday at Saint Peter's Basilica.
In 1996, together with Christopher Bord, Mr. Penkala founded CanticaNOVA Publications, whose goal is to provide "Traditional Music for the Contemporary Church."
The company has grown to include music by many prominent composers, and the web site, in addition to an Online Catalog, features Musical Musings articles and Liturgical Planning pages.
Apart from those offered by CNP, Mr. Penkala's publications include Diocesan Guidelines for Sacred Music, Diocesan Guidelines for Wedding Music, various journal articles on choral and organ topics, and a series of descants.
For nine years, he was a columnist for the diocesan newspaper The Catholic Register, writing a column for musicians and liturgists called "Musical Musings."
Among the works of Gary Penkala found in the current catalog of CanticaNOVA Publications are the following, many of which were performed by the musical groups at his parishes and the Pontifical North American College: