Music is everywhere: the song of birds in the trees; on the iPod while working out at the gym; the sound of children at play. Throughout history, music and songs have been used to tell stories, transmit news and lighten the burdens of those at work. For Columban Father Diego Cabrera Rojas, music and song expressing Christian values are a way to evangelize his native Peru and beyond.
Orphaned at age 3, Fr. Rojas saw first hand the injustice in society while growing up in an orphanage and learning a trade. He came to the priesthood through his interest in music and, in 1995, became the first Peruvian Columban Father. Fr. Rojas was an accomplished musician by age 12 and a composer by 15. He joined pachAmérica in 1992 as the musical group’s promoter and second guitar.
Through pachAmérica, Christian values are dispensed through song and the recordings are made available at cost to the poorest members of society. Sharing his experiences of God with others through tapes and CDs as well as singing at festivals and poor parishes in Lima and throughout Peru allows Fr. Rojas to promote Christian values to wide and energetic audiences.
Before his return to Peru in 1995 and again from 2000 to 2002, Fr. Rojas’s mission work took him to the South Pacific island nation of Fiji where he learned to write and
speak the Hindi language to communicate effectively with the villagers. Many non-Catholics attended the Hindi Masses in Fiji to participate in the music program.
Along with the music program, Fr. Rojas found the sharing of the traditional yaqona bowl to be an effective outreach to the community. As the yaqona was consumed, discussions about faith and community ensued.
Fr. Rojas continues to use music to cross-cultural boundaries and spread the word of God in Peru while continuing his mission work. Some of Fr. Rojas’s pachAmérica videos can be seen on YouTube.com by searching for “pachamerica”.