2235 Gallahad Road, Mission Valley
Contact: 858-277-2511; holyangelssandiego.com
Membership: 60 households
Pastor: Father Robert Pipta
Formation: St. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA
Years Ordained: 20
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Father Robert Pipta: I enjoy preaching the most on growth in the ascetical life for Christians in light of the reality of the resurrection. Asceticism is spiritual exercise — it’s our part of the deal when it comes to what Jesus Christ has done for all people. It is our response to the reality of the resurrection; it’s carrying a cross, which is part of the road to the life of resurrection, and trying to give people practical guideposts for embracing the cross daily, following Christ, and journeying to the resurrection with our Lord.
SDR: What is your main concern as member of the clergy?
FP: It’s quite related to what I enjoy preaching on the most: that is what seems to be an increasing hopelessness with people in our society, a rejection of God, and behavior that seems to reflect a rejection of God even by those who speak of their belief in the gospel.
SDR: Why the Byzantine Catholic Church?
FP: It is perhaps the uncommon story today, but I was blessed with very good friends who are faithful Catholics, a supportive parish, and a great example from my father. I think God worked through all of this to keep me steadfast in my practice of the Byzantine tradition. So, when I was perceiving my call most profoundly throughout college, this was the only choice for me.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
FP: I don’t want to get to a specific without first mentioning the general mission, which is consistent with the mission that Christ gave to his disciples, to go out and preach the gospel and to see that people are nourished with his life through the mystery of the Church, the sacraments, baptism, chrismation, and especially the Holy Eucharist and confession. Our particular church can carry out that mission through a sense of beauty and solemnity, a strong sense of the heavenly when it comes to worship and a celebration of the sacraments.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
FP: Death is the separation of the soul from the body and it is pretty clear where the body goes at least until the second coming of Christ. But the soul seeks God and is created by God and wants to eternally be with God. The Church is careful, as am I, not to be too detailed of that journey of the soul after death, but for it to be in God’s presence and in a blessed state is a gift of God. That is something we pray for and beg God for. I have a confidence because of the life of the Church and generosity of God that the souls of the faithful and my own soul, I pray, will hasten to God’s loving arms at death and hasten to its reunion with the glorified body at the second coming of Christ. I believe in hell, separation from God. But I also believe that God doesn’t want anyone to end up in that state. God is ultimately powerful over the devil. Any separation from God is our own doing; it’s not God’s doing.