Pope Francis appoints priest as bishop of Ohio-based Byzantine eparchy

Pope Francis addresses pilgrims from the Ruthenian Eparchy of Mukachevo in St Peters Basilica Dec 11 2019 Credit Filippo Monteforte AFP via Getty Images Pope Francis addresses pilgrims from the Ruthenian Eparchy of Mukachevo in St. Peter's Basilica, Dec. 11, 2019. | Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images.

Pope Francis this week confirmed the appointment of a priest of the Eparchy of Phoenix as the bishop of a Byzantine Catholic eparchy serving several midwestern U.S. states, the Vatican announced Thursday. 

In its regular update of resignations and appointments, the Holy See Press Office said Aug. 31 that Father Robert Mark Pipta had been appointed as bishop of the Eparchy of Parma based outside of Cleveland.

The Byzantine Catholic Church — formally titled the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church — is known in canon law as an “ecclesia particularis,” or a “particular church,” one that is in full communion with the Holy See but which retains distinct liturgical rites and customs from that of the Latin Church. 

An eparchy is the Byzantine Catholic equivalent of a diocese. The Parma eparchy encompasses most of Ohio as well as Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, the bishopric says on its website.

Pipta is a priest of Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix, and currently serves as rector of Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Pipta was ordained in 1994 for the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Van Nuys, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says on its website. He has served at parishes in California and Nevada in addition to his appointments in Pennsylvania and Arizona. 

The newly appointed bishop said in a letter this week that since its founding 50 years ago, the Parma eparchy has “shown itself a leader in return to authentic liturgical practice and has enhanced its parishes in the liturgical arts.”

“Efforts of evangelization and outreach are notable in the eparchy, including guidance to assist college students in remaining connected to their Byzantine Catholic upbringing,” Pipta said. “I’m eager to do my part for the increase of these and many other Spirit-guided endeavors.”

Reached for comment on Thursday, an eparchy official said the bishopric has not yet finalized arrangements for Pipta’s installation. Passaic Eparchy Bishop Kurt Richard Burnette, who also serves as the apostolic administrator of Parma, said in a letter that Pipta would be consecrated in his new role on Nov. 8. 

The Parma eparchy includes nearly 30 parishes spread across 12 states, totaling roughly 4,300 parishioners.

The eparchy was established in February 1969 by Pope Paul VI.

A previous version of this article identified Father Pipta as “a Pittsburgh priest.” He is a priest of the Eparchy of Phoenix.

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