Fr. Paul Varchola West (b. 1984) was raised in Saddle Brook, NJ, and grew up at St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral in Passaic where he was baptized at the tender age of 2 weeks old.
Fr. Paul’s initial academic training was in music. He received a Bachelor of Music Theory with a Minor in Microtonal Music Studies from Montclair State University (Upper Montclair, NJ ‒ 2007), a Master of Fine Arts in Music Composition from The California Institute of the Arts (Los Angeles, CA ‒ 2010), and he holds a NJ State Teacher Certification in Music (K-12). Fr. Paul’s music career has taken him all over North America, including a trip to the 2013 Grammy Awards as a Grammy Nominee.
Fr. Paul married his wife Alissa in 2009 and they became parishioners of St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church (Hillsborough, NJ) in 2012 upon returning to NJ from Los Angeles. Alissa is also a New Jersey native and is very proud of her “South Jersey” heritage. She was born and raised in Millville, NJ, just a hop, skip and a jump away from Levittown! Prior to the family moving to Pittsburgh for Fr. Paul’s seminary studies, Alissa enjoyed a decade-long career as a Board Certified Music Therapist. They have two children.
Fr. Paul completed his priestly formation and academic studies at The Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in May of 2020, earning a Master of Divinity. His master’s thesis, Cheating the Interval: A Philosophical and Harmonic Investigation of Prostopinije and its Speculative Function within Divine Worship, explored the possibility of producing a more accurate means of notation that more clearly reflects the slight differences in intonation inherent to the folk tradition of Subcarpathian Rus’ that is preserved in Prostopinije. In his leisure time, Fr. Paul enjoys spending time with his family, reading, writing, and teaching his children the finer points of fishing. The family feels very blessed that the Holy Spirit has called them to ministry at OLPH. They are very excited to get to know you all and become part of the parish family!