Ordinations litanies

Priesthood and Diaconate Ordinations 2017

The ordination of men to the priesthood and diaconate is a very exciting event for our diocese. Properly called Holy Orders, ordination is the means by which a Catholic baptized male becomes a deacon, priest or bishop. Every year the Diocese of Arlington celebrates Masses of Ordination to the priesthood and transitional diaconate (in early summer) and permanent diaconate (in January) at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More, and all the faithful are invited to attend.

We the faithful celebrate these ordinations because these new priests and deacons make Christ present and the sacraments more available. The ordinations show us that the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts and minds of the people of the diocese, stirring up in men’s hearts the desire to follow and imitate Christ. An ordination may mark the end of formation, but it is also the beginning of life as a priest or deacon: a life of generous service to the faithful of the diocese. For these reasons, the entire diocesan community is invited to the ordination ceremonies, as well as to the first Masses of the newly-ordained priests. Come join in the celebration and give thanks to God!

Ordination Events

Bishop Michael Burbidge ordained Fr. Steven Oetjen, Fr. Stephen Vaccaro and Fr. Jordan Willard to the Priesthood on June 10, 2017 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More. See photos here.

Watch the video of the ceremonyDownload the Mass program.

Meet the newly-ordained priests:


Reverend Steven G. Oetjen


Reverend Stephen M. Vaccaro


Reverend Jordan M. Willard

Diaconate Ordination

On June 3, 2017, Bishop Michael Burbidge ordained Rev. Mr. Michael J. Folmar, Jr., and Rev. Mr. Christopher F. Tipton to the transitional diaconate at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More. See photos here.

Watch the videoDownload the Mass program.

Meet the new deacons:


Reverend Mr. Michael J. Folmar, Jr.


Reverend Mr. Christopher F. Tipton

Holy Hour before Priestly Ordination

Every year there is a holy hour vigil the night before priesthood ordinations to spend time with the Lord and pray for our soon-to-be ordained priests of the Diocese. Here are some photos from this year's holy hour, which was presided over by Bishop Michael Burbidge and included a seminarian schola.

First Masses

First Masses offer a special opportunity for the faithful (see FAQ number four below), and all are invited to attend. See photos from the first Masses of our new priests celebrated on Sunday June 11, 2017:

The first Mass of Reverend Mr. Steven Oetjen at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Alexandria.

The first Mass of Reverend Mr. Stephen Vaccaro at St. Michael Catholic Church in Annandale.

The first Mass of Reverend Mr. Jordan Willard at the Chapel at the Heights School in Potomac, MD.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an ordination?

Ordination in the Catholic Church, properly called Holy Orders, is the means by which a baptized male becomes a deacon, priest or bishop. The essential element is the Prayer of Consecration, asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. For the priesthood and episcopacy, it also includes the Laying on of Hands and Anointing with Sacred Chrism.

Priestly ordination includes the following elements:

  • The Calling of the Candidates: When all has been prepared, the candidates are called forward by the Deacon of the Call
  • The Presentation of the Candidates: The candidates are presented to the bishop by the Diocesan Director of the Office of Vocations.
  • The Election by the Bishop and the Consent of the People: The congregation expresses its assent to the choice by applause.
  • The Homily and Instruction:The bishop addresses the people and the candidates on the duties of a priest.
  • The Examination and Promise of Obedience: The candidates are publicly examined by the bishop concerning their intention to be priests and to fulfill the duties of their office. Each candidate kneels before the bishop, placing his hands within those of the bishop.
  • The Litany of Supplication: The candidates prostrate themselves as the congregation prays the Litany of the Saints on their behalf. Prostration, which means laying face down before God, is an ancient posture showing both the donation by the candidate of their life to God and His Church, as well as supplication, which is asking God the grace to live his life for God and His Church.
  • The Laying on of Hands: One by one, the candidates go to the bishop and kneel before him. The bishop lays his hands on the head of each in silence. The laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination which follows constitute the essential elements of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Next, all the priests present lay their hands on the head of each candidate.
  • Prayer of Ordination: With his hands extended over the candidates, the bishop recites the prayer of ordination, whereby the candidates are ordained priests. At the conclusion of the prayer, the congregation responds by saying: Amen.
  • Investiture with stole and chasuble: The newly ordained priests remain standing. They are now vested with the stole and chasuble, as symbols of their new office in the Church.
  • The Anointing of the hands:  The newly ordained priests' hands are anointed with sacred chrism. This symbolizes that it is in these hands that bread will become the Body of Christ and wine the Blood of Christ.
  • The Presentation of the Gifts: The bishop receives the gifts of bread and wine from the people for the celebration of the Mass. Once the chalice and paten have been prepared, they are brought to the bishop,who presents them to the new priests as they kneel before him.
  • Fraternal kiss: The bishop stands and gives the fraternal kiss, also known as the sign of peace, to each of the new priests, as do the attending priests. This gesture is a sign of welcome into the Priesthood of Jesus Christ which they all share as brothers. 

2. What is the difference between a transitional deacon and a permanent deacon?

Transitional deacons are those in formation to become priests, and are normally ordained to the diaconate six months to a year prior to their priestly ordination. Permanent deacons are those not planning to be ordained priests; they are usually married, or single men committed to a celibate lifestyle.


3. What is a first blessing?

It’s customary in the Church to ask a newly-ordained priest for his “first blessing” (within the first year after his ordination). Though there is no indulgence attached to this, the tradition includes kneeling before the newly ordained priest, receiving his blessing, and then kissing the palms of his hands in recognition of the sacredness of priesthood and of the hands that can consecrate the Eucharist and confer the sacraments.


4. What is a first Mass?

In most dioceses, the day after a priest is ordained (or soon after), he celebrates the first Mass where he is the main celebrant. He may also celebrate one or more “Masses of Thanksgiving” in churches or chapels of particular significance to him (for example, the chapel of his college campus ministry). 

These Masses are open to anyone to attend to give thanks for the new priest, to pray for his fidelity in his vocation, as well as to gain a plenary indulgence, if all the usual conditions are met.