Among the important attributes that I look for in pastoral musicians is that they possess a spirit of passion and joy. There are very few music ministers that I know that embody this joyous attitude more than Rodolfo and Estela (Stella) Garcia-Lopez. Husband and wife, and parents of equally delightful children, they both met at California State University in Los Angeles, and ever since their college days they have dedicated their lives to the ministry of pastoral music in both parishes and in their work and ministry that they serve in at OCP Publications, in Portland, Oregon.
They have two recorded collections of liturgical music with OCP, Brille Tu Luz and their most recent project, Cristo No Tiene Pies en el Mundo. Their popular bilingual Mass setting, Misa Santa Cecilia/Mass of St. Cecilia, is part of the popular Unidos en Cristo/United in Christ missal program, and recently, the pair also wrote one of the songs on OCP’s new Spanish-language contemporary compilation album, Bendito, Bendito, with songs for praise and worship. They both have sung, played in and produced dozens of Spanish-language and bilingual music recordings for OCP.
They are both amazingly talented musicians, composers, and workshop clinicians who hold the deep belief in the power of music to draw people more closely into the liturgy and to serve the spiritual lives of believers. Rodolfo is an accomplished guitarist and producer who studied composition in college, and he serves at OCP as their Hispanic Events Specialist, living a busy life filled with travel across the country coordinating workshops and events for Hispanic liturgical musicians that focus on the basic musical, liturgical, and pastoral needs of bilingual Spanish-speaking choirs and parish assemblies.
Estela is a parish pastoral musician, composer and event presenter, and has served in various bilingual parishes in Southern California and Oregon as a music director, choir director, cantor and chorister. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in music with an emphasis in voice and can be heard on many recordings published by OCP. In her ministry to sung prayer, she is committed to enriching the liturgy—in both English and Spanish—through music. She offers workshops focused on music preparation for Spanish-speaking cantors and choirs as a music development specialist at OCP, as well as leading the choir at Ascension Catholic Church in Portland.
Most recently, both Rodolfo and Estela composed “Rise Up!/¡Levántate!” [preview here] as the bilingual theme song for the 2018 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, that just took place last month. Composing this theme song each year is a daunting task for the composers who are invited to create this anthem that is sung and prayed by over 20,000 people each year for this event. I should know, as I composed the theme song in 1991 (“Voices that Challenge”), and know the dynamics involved in composing something that can be sung and prayed instantly, and yet at the same time, embody and celebrate the theme that is carried throughout the weekend. It also needs to reflect the immense cultural diversity that make up the participants who attend, and also be able to lend itself to liturgical dance and be sung by an assembly with varied musical and vocal abilities. I have to say, as I was there for its premiere and witnessed how it was laced through the entire Congress – Rodolfo and Estela did more than just accomplish meeting these criteria. They provided us all with a musical proclamation that pulled us into the deep mission of not only the congress, but gifted us with a musical profession of faith for all who believe and hold call to serve as a people consumed and convicted of the empty tomb. I have to say – that “Rise Up!/¡Levántate!” is a gift that will keep on giving, not only at events such as the LA Religious Education Congress, but for parishes and other liturgies on the local and pastoral level. It sings itself, and it opens the door for all of us who ache and hope for our rising again and again and again in our faith (check out the Song-Video below, where they provide background about the song, and then present the song in a powerful performance).
But beyond all of their gifts and how they have composed beautiful song-prayers for the liturgy, I have to say that these two truly hold a servant’s heart, and are an inspiration to me and to so many who have come to know them as colleagues and friends. Stella and Rodolfo witness to me – what the ministry of pastoral music is: musical talent, liturgical sensitivity, a love of their culture and the people they serve, and a passionate and joyful faith in Jesus. How do you beat that? You can’t. God bless you, Estela and Rodolfo. Keep it coming! (DH: 3.26.18)
Recordings and Collections from Rodolfo and Estela:
Cristo No Tiene Pies en el Mundo
Rise Up! ¡Levántate!
(L.A. Religious Education Congress 2018 theme song)
Cristo, Sáname/Jesus, Heal Me (Estela García)