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:
- A Song of Life CNP Catalog #3057
- Adoro te devote: A Communion Processional on a Chant Theme CNP Catalog #2010
- Agnus Dei f/Missa æterna Christi munera (ed. Penkala) CNP Catalog #7007
- All Good Shepherds CNP Catalog #5055
- Alleluia Noel CNP Catalog #3051
- Alternatim Kyrie (ed. Penkala)CNP Catalog #6005
- Beata viscera CNP Catalog #3028
- Book of Sung Gospels - 4th Edition (ed. Penkala) CNP Catalog #3012-4
- Blessed Be the Lord from Seven Roman Basilica Processionals CNP Catalog #3074
- Canticle of Hannah CNP Catalog #3195
- Chaconne in G (Campra/ed. Penkala) CNP Catalog #6015
- Christ Is the Vine CNP Catalog #3063
- Communion Antiphons for Eastertide CNP Catalog #3029
- Communion Psalms for the Liturgical Seasons CNP Catalog #3020
- Easter Psalm CNP Catalog #1000-E
- Easy Marian Antiphons CNP Catalog #5290
- Emmanuel: An Advent Processional CNP Catalog #3035
- Ephesians Prayer CNP Catalog #3049
- Eternal Rest [responsory for funerals]
- Exaudi Domine CNP Catalog #7002
- Fanfare, Chorale & Fantasia on a Theme by Elgar CNP Catalog #6024
- From East to West: A Christmas Processional CNP Catalog #3015
- Festival Intrada CNP Catalog #3045
- Gloria Vaticana CNP Catalog #3039
- Go and Tell the World CNP Catalog #3027
- God Is the King CNP Catalog #7008
- God of My Heart CNP Catalog #3198
- Gospel Verses for the Christmas Cycle CNP Catalog #3050
- Gospel Acclamation for Ordinary Time or Ordinations CNP Catalog #3055
- Grace Was Poured Out upon Thy Lips CNP Catalog #3196
- Hail, Holy Mother from Seven Roman Basilica Processionals CNP Catalog #3075
- I Know That My Redeemer Lives [responsory for funerals] CNP Catalog #3058
- Il messaggio di San Gabriele Arcangelo CNP Catalog #6016
- In medio Ecclesiæ CNP Catalog #5065
- Joy to the World (arr. Penkala) CNP Catalog #6040
- Laudate Dominum (arr. Penkala) CNP Catalog #7009
- Love's Noble Purpose CNP Catalog #5069
- Loyal Sheep, The from Seven Roman Basilica Processionals (Michael Dudis, arr. Penkala) CNP Catalog #3072
- May Christ Be Our Life from Seven Roman Basilica Processionals CNP Catalog #3073
- Making Music to Thy Name, Volume 1 CNP Catalog #6071
- Magnificat brevis CNP Catalog #5070
- M&M Gems: Mozart and Mendelssohn (ed. Penkala) CNP Catalog #7020
- New Lambs of Christ: Music for the Baptismal Rite CNP Catalog #3030
- O Grant Me Wisdom CNP Catalog #5075
- O magnum mysterium (Victoria/ed. Penkala) CNP Catalog #7070
- Orationes sanctorum CNP Catalog #3197
- Pastoral Processional CNP Catalog #3040
- Pastores dabo vobis CNP Catalog #3070
- Prayer of Saint Francis CNP Catalog #5090
- Propers for the Liturgical Year CNP Catalog #3200
- Psalm 19 [Ordinary Time] CNP Catalog #1019-1
- Psalm 34 [General or Wedding] CNP Catalog #1034-1
- Psalm 40 [Various occasions] CNP Catalog #1040-1
- Psalm 69 [Ordinary Time] CNP Catalog #1069-1
- Psalm 139 [Birth of John the Baptist]
- Regina coeli (Riccio/ed. Penkala) CNP Catalog #7006
- Renaissance Alleluia CNP Catalog #3079
- Reproaches, The CNP Catalog #3080
- Requiem æternam (Martini/ed. Penkala) CNP Catalog #5092
- Serve God in Love from Seven Roman Basilica Processionals CNP Catalog #3076
- Seven Last Words of Christ CNP Catalog #5097
- Sing Psalms and Hymns CNP Catalog #5102
- Spirit of Strength and Courage from Seven Roman Basilica Processionals CNP Catalog #3078
- Stirling Bridge Mass CNP Catalog #3021
- Suscipe CNP Catalog #5009
- Sustinuit anima mea CNP Catalog #5101
- Tantum ergo: A Processional for Holy Thursday (arr. Penkala) CNP Catalog #3085
- Taste and See CNP Catalog #1034-2
- Tell Me, Shepherds (arr. Penkala) CNP Catalog #5100
- Ten New Carols for Advent and Christmas, Volume 1 CNP Catalog #4010
- Ten New Carols for Advent and Christmas, Volume 2 CNP Catalog #4020
- Toccata on 'Victimæ paschali' CNP Catalog #6002
- Universal Music for Evening Prayer CNP Catalog #3101-2
- Universal Music for Morning Prayer CNP Catalog #3100-2
- Versets for 'Kyrie orbis factor' CNP Catalog #6007
- Vita mutator: Music for Funeral Choirs, Volume 1 CNP Catalog #5301
- We Should Glory in the Cross from Seven Roman Basilica Processionals CNP Catalog #3077
- Wedding Psalm and Alleluia CNP Catalog #1148
- Winchester Alleluia CNP Catalog #3008