Bishop Robert Pipta, Head of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, to Serve as WCC’s Commencement Speaker at Graduation 2024

As the Spring semester gets underway, Wyoming Catholic College has announced that Most Rev. Robert Pipta, head of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, will deliver the Commencement Address at the College’s Commencement Ceremony in May.

“We are not an exclusively Byzantine college,” said President Kyle Washut, “but the way we immerse our students in the riches of both the Eastern and Western liturgical and theological traditions—‘breathing with two lungs,’ as Pope Saint John Paul II put it—is one of the things that sets us apart in the world of Catholic higher education. We are pleased and honored to welcome Bishop Robert to Lander this spring, and look forward to the wisdom and advice he will offer to our newest graduates as they prepare to embark on their adventures.”

Bishop Pipta was born in 1967, in Anaheim, California. Raised in southern California, he attended public schools there and completed a Bachelor of Arts program in Music at the University of California, Irvine in 1990. A member of Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church in Anaheim, California from shortly after its founding in 1969, all of his ordinations took place at his home parish, where he served at the altar from the age of six and served as a weekday cantor during his college years. He was formed for the priesthood at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was ordained to the priesthood on April 21, 1994, for the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Van Nuys.

As a priest of the Eparchy of Van Nuys (now Phoenix), he served as parochial vicar at St. Stephen’s in Phoenix, Arizona (1994-1997); administrator of St. Gabriel’s in Las Vegas, Nevada (1997-2004); and pastor at Holy Angels’ in San Diego, California (2004-2014). Beginning in 2014, he served as the rector of The Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during which time he worked directly with President Washut, who served as Visiting Associate Professor of Patristics and Ecclesiastical History there. In August of 2023, he was named by Pope Francis to head the Eparchy of Parma, which ministers to Byzantine Ruthenian Rite Catholics in the Midwest. (President Washut had the pleasure of attending the bishop’s Episcopal Ordination and Enthronement on November 8, 2023.)

Bishop Pipta’s episcopal heraldry is a reflection of his extensive education in and deep love for sacred music. Based on an icon of The Venerable Father Romanus the Melodist, who lived in the fifth century and is known to have composed many and various kontakia, Bishop Pipta’s motto comes from the Kontakion on the Mission of the Apostles, “May I obey what I preach and be the first to do what I teach.” The College’s Roman and Byzantine choirs, guided by its composer-in-residence, Paul Jernberg, look forward to sharing the College’s rich culture of sacred music with Bishop Pipta at the various liturgical events surrounding Commencement.

As President Washut noted, the College responded to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for all Catholics to pursue the path of unity between East and West—a call most clearly represented in his apostolic letter, Orientale Lumen—by becoming the first Roman Catholic college in the nation to have a full-time Byzantine Rite chaplain. That chaplain, Father David Anderson, is committed to “providing the presence of the Byzantine tradition in as much fullness as we can manage.” He believes that “rootedness in the lives, teachings and examples of the Church Fathers is still central to the Eastern Churches, and that’s another gift that can provide a lot of ballast to the universal Church during these difficult times.”

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