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"Dear Damaris,
Hello! There are no words to express my feelings of gratitude for the opportunity to attend the conference in Tampa. I liked it a lot and the three young people learned a lot...
Thank you very much for your help! God bless you!
With a big hug!"

father salt

"Thank you very much for all your attention during the last convention. For us it was a unique experience of fellowship, learning and dedication to Christ."

Sarmiento Group


By Silvio Cuellar

Exactly 17 years ago I went to my first conference of Hispanic pastoral musicians in the city of Seattle, Washington.

I remember that on that occasion I went thanks to the drive and motivation of the former Director of the Hispanic Ministry of the Diocese of Providence and who later became Director of Evangelization, Dominican Sister Marta Inés Toro, OP.

Before that conference, music was for me like a hobby, something I did on weekends to get away from the routine of work and daily life.

In that conference that I remember was organized by the National Institute of Hispanic Liturgy, you can meet composers like Pedro Rubalcaba, Jaime Cortez, Peter Kolar; and share with Mauricio Centeno and other colleagues and really change my perspective on my role as a pastoral musician.

In that conference I was able to appreciate the level of professionalism of the composers and liturgical speakers, and to understand how much I needed to learn and also to really be able to see my role as a pastoral musician;  no longer as a hobby, but as a life vocation.

That Seattle conference,  inspired and impacted my life and since then I have always tried to attend every liturgical or pastoral musician conference that has come my way, and each one of them has put a stepping stone in my formation and preparation as a pastoral musician, composer, and conductor. of music ministries in the parish.

Our Lord has endowed each of us who serve in music ministries with diverse talents whether it be singing, playing an instrument or directing a choir or music ministry.

But just as in the parable of the talents, we need to develop those gifts that God has given us, put them to work and make them grow.

I remember the first mass there was in 1991 in the parish of San Patricio when I began to direct the choir even without being able to sing. I was playing guitar at the 6:30 pm mass when one Sunday everyone left for the beach and no one came back on time.

That day it was as if someone had pushed into the pool and I had to learn to swim or I would drown. I had to get my voice out from somewhere and I felt like someone was strangling me, and my ears were really hot; I was very nervous, but that day I started singing. That was the beginnings.

Then I volunteered for another 12 years and during that time I was progressing with my guitar playing skills and little by little learning to use my voice better. After 13 more years, a young and visionary pastor arrived at St. Patrick's Church and at the same time the person who was an organist and director of music for the English-speaking community retired. Then one of my dreams came true, which was to be able to work in the music ministry in a parish on a professional level.  The pastor invited me to a meeting and asked if I could take over the responsibility of being director of Music for the entire parish. At that time I became the first of the Hispanic pastoral musicians to lead a choir in English in the Diocese of Providence in Rhode Island.

They have spent 10 years working in the parish on a professional level and one of the greatest satisfactions is that several young people who served by my side have become choir directors in other parishes.

I was reflecting on last weekend and how I was able to serve by directing a school youth choir at noon mass on Friday, then on Saturday morning I had a rehearsal with the music ministry in English, a mass of a devotion popular at 11 am, a wedding of a young couple from the Hispanic community at 1, ending with the 4 pm mass in English. On Sunday I started my day with a mass at 8am in English where I was playing the piano accompanied by a soprano, then the main (family) mass in English at 9:45am where we have a music ministry and a choir. with 22 voices, and ending my services at noon with mass  in Spanish with a 12 voice choir and music ministry.

I was thinking about how many blessings I have received from the Lord and how much I enjoy Sunday after Sunday being able to serve him through music directing many choirs, singing and playing different instruments. I thought it all started when I still couldn't sing and only knew a few chords on the guitar, attending my first Hispanic Pastoral Musicians Conference in '97 in Seattle.

In a few more weeks, we will have the VI Conference of the Association of Hispanic Pastoral Musicians of the East (AMPHE) at the Immaculate Conception Seminary of the Diocese of Rock Ville Center on Long Island.

If you haven't registered yet don't wait any longer do it, and share this information with other friends who are involved in the music ministry.  This will be a beautiful event full of motivation, inspiration, and training.

I am sure that the Lord has wonderful things prepared for those who attend and I am also sure that it will impact the lives of those present just as it impacted mine when I attended my first conference, 17 years ago.

Silvio Cuellar

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