Three different paths - same destination

June 8, 2018


ARLINGTON, Va. – On Saturday, June 9, 2018, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington, will ordain three men to the priesthood at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington:  Michael J. Folmar, 32; Nicholas Schierer, 32;  and Christopher Tipton, 29.



When:          Saturday, June 9, 11 a.m.

Where:         Cathedral of Saint Thomas More, 3901 N. Cathedral Lane, Arlington



Michael Folmar says he’s wanted to be a priest since he was a child. “I have a photo of me at three years old dressed as a priest. I have a blanket over me, and a rosary. I would take toast and grape juice and that would be my own altar bread and wine,” he says. Folmar was born in Pittsburgh on July 25, 1985, to Michael and Tamara Folmar and is the second of four children. His father was in the military, and the family moved around a lot. They eventually settled in northern Virginia and moved into a house near FBI headquarters where his father worked. Michael attended George Mason University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. “I was thinking pre-med, but deep inside I knew it wasn’t true,” he says. A year later, however, he entered religious life with the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word in Alabama. For six years he worked for EWTN and served the needs of the network.  But because he had no family connections in Alabama, the Franciscans encouraged Michael to become a diocesan priest. “The order made me realize that the gift God gave me would be better served as a diocesan priest than a religious priest,” he says.  Still wanting to be a Franciscan, in 2013 Michael attended Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. After spending time there with fellow seminarians, he realized the Franciscans were right. After his ordination to the diaconate by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge in 2017, he headed to All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas. Michael says he was glad to hear that his priestly ordination is June 9. “It is the feast day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is so fitting because one of the main messages of Fatima is that her immaculate heart will triumph.”


Nicholas Schierer, a northern Virginia native, was born in Fairfax on October 12, 1986. He is has three brothers and was raised in Fairfax. “During high school, I thought about becoming a history teacher and also about the priesthood,” he says.  Nicholas attended the University of Mary Washington, where he double-majored in history and religion and was also active in campus ministry. “I planned on getting a job, teaching history in a high school, and getting married to my girlfriend at the time,” he says.  It wasn’t until two years after college in 2011 that he truly began to discern the priesthood.  “Watching a priest celebrate Mass and knowing that I could be happy doing that for the rest of my life, I wanted to be able to celebrate the Sacraments for other people.”  Nicholas attended the Pontifical North American College. He was ordained a deacon in 2017 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.


Christopher Tipton says that for as long as he can remember, he has told people he wanted to be a priest. “The question for me was whether I was called to the diocesan or religious priesthood,” he says.  Christopher was born May 2, 1989, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and is the second child of six children. His father was in the Army and moved several times.  “I had the privilege of seeing much of the United States (both coasts and middle states) and Europe,” he says.  By the age of 16, Christopher had lived in Europe for nine years.  His initial desire of becoming a priest grew with his experiences overseas visiting shrines, Rome, and cathedrals. “My parents made catechesis and pilgrimages a priority. We were also always involved in every parish we lived,” he says.  Christopher attended Christendom College and double-majored in Philosophy and Theology. When he graduated college in 2012, he discerned that God wanted him in the diocese and he was accepted at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.  He was ordained a deacon in 2017 at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington.