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HE KNOWS HIS RITES Fr. Cyril Pinchak, S.J. is giving students an experience of the universal church

by Kathryne Kraven Bradesca for the Winter 2021 issue of Saint Ignatius Magazine

“The path is made by walking. The way you straddle the two worlds is just by doing it.” These words from a mentor priest early in his career echo loudly today on the dual path that has led Fr. Cyril Pinchak, S.J. to Saint Ignatius High School. Fr. Pinchak is indeed on a dual path as a Theology teacher and cross country and track coach. And it is a path that has him seeing double, as a priest in both the Byzantine and the Roman Catholic rites.

An east sider who almost went to Saint Ignatius, Fr. Pinchak ultimately chose Gilmour Academy, attending along with his twin sister, Andrea Corvi. Part of his early dual path, he attended two Catholic churches growing up: St. Joseph Byzantine in Brecksville and Gesu Roman Catholic Parish in University Heights.

According to Fr. Pinchak, “The world is richer by pluralities.” Although the rituals of the two rites are different, the core of the sacraments is still the same, and he wants to share these experiences of the universal church with his students.

Fr. Cyril Pinchak blessing the Wildcat Marching Band's instruments.

After graduating from John Carroll University in 2006, Pinchak spent two years in the Loyola House Jesuit Novitiate in Berkley, Michigan. He received his master’s in English from Loyola University Chicago in 2011 and joined the faculty of the University of Detroit Jesuit High as an English teacher and hockey, cross country, and track coach. His final step was studying Theology at Regis College in Toronto, where he received his M.Div.

In the summer of 2017, Pinchak was ordained at the Byzantine Cathedral in Parma. The very next day he celebrated his first Mass at Gesu. Ten days later he flew to Rome to study at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, where he recently received his Licentiate.

Fr. Pinchak arrived at Saint Ignatius this past fall, and appreciates the real sense of collegiality with the faculty and staff, as well as the students.

“I am really impressed with how well-behaved and eager to learn they are,” he says.

Theology Department Chair Jim Brennan ’85 is inspired.

“He’s getting these kids to think. They are reading heavy documents, and he is walking them through that.” Brennan is also impressed with Fr. Pinchak’s innovative technology use, engaging all students in real time, even from home.

Brennan appreciates how Pinchak strives to bring the sacraments to Saint Ignatius students. “He was coordinating confessions and opportunities to go to the chapel for the Eucharist just when we had to switch to remote learning.”

Fr. Pinchak will spend the next year and a half at Saint Ignatius before moving on. Although not yet decided, it is likely he will return to Rome and teach at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, as one of the few Jesuit priests who understands both the Eastern Catholic theology as well as Roman Catholic law.

And he wouldn’t have it any other way. In his own words, “My life is awesome.”