Ordinations laying of hands

Annual Arlington Priesthood and Transitional Diaconate Ordination

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

Diaconate Ordination

All are invited to the Diaconate Ordination for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 3 at The Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. Download the Mass program here.

During this wonderful celebration Michael Folmar and Christopher Tipton will be ordained as transitional deacons, a major step in their journey to the priesthood. Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge will be the celebrant and confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders on these two men.

Please note: All priests (including those visiting!) are welcomed to concelebrate at this wonderful occasion. (Those not incardinated in the Diocese of Arlington should contact the Office of Clergy at (703) 841-3809.)

Holy Hour before Priestly Ordination

Come spend time with the Lord to pray for our soon-to-be ordained priests of the Diocese.

A holy hour for their intentions will be held from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, June 9 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

This holy hour includes exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a reflection or meditation, intercessory prayers and litanies for the men to be ordained, and benediction. All ordinandi will be present and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington, will preside.

Priesthood Ordination

Witness the beauty and power of the Sacrament of Ordination with our ordinandi, Deacons Steven Oetjen, Stephen Vaccaro and Jordan Willard, and the largest annual gathering of priests in the entire Diocese. The ceremony is at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 10 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge will be the celebrant and confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders on these three men. Download the Mass program here.

Please note: All priests (including those visiting!) are welcomed to concelebrate at this wonderful occasion. (Those not incardinated in the Diocese of Arlington should contact the Office of Clergy at (703) 841-3809.)

First Masses

First Masses offer a special opportunity for the faithful to receive a plenary indulgence (see the FAQs below), and all are invited to attend. All are on Sunday, June 11:

The first Mass of Reverend Mr. Steven Oetjen is at 9:00 a.m. at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Alexandria.

The first Mass of Reverend Mr. Stephen Vaccaro is at 12:00 noon at St. Michael Catholic Church in Annandale.

The first Mass of Reverend Mr. Jordan Willard is at 5 p.m. in the Chapel at the Heights School in Potomac, MD.

Meet the soon-to-be ordained candidates

For the Diaconate



Reverend Mr. Michael J. Folmar, Jr.

Deacon Michael Folmar has just completed his third year of theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. He wants to become a priest to offer Mass and save souls. He looks forward to serving the people of our diocese more fully as a deacon, and especially to administering the Sacrament of Baptism, being the instrument God uses to wipe away all sin and mark someone as God's child.

Read Michael Folmar's story on the Arlington Catholic Herald



Reverend Mr. Christopher F. Tipton

Deacon Christopher Tipton has just completed his third year of theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Christendom College with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and theology. He says that for as long as he can remember, he has wanted to be a priest. Through prayer he asked God to make clear to him when to apply, and that was after college. He encourages discerners to involve God in their discernment.

Read Christopher Tipton's story on the Arlington Catholic Herald

For the Priesthood



Reverend Mr. Steven G. Oetjen

Deacon Steven just completed his fourth year of theology at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Prior to entering seminary he studied mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Time spent in adoration revealed desires in his heart to serve the Church and to be a spiritual father. Through prayer and the guidance of holy priests, he decided to continue this discernment in seminary. He wants to give himself entirely to God and to His Church.



Reverend Mr. Stephen M. Vaccaro

Deacon Stephen has just completed his fourth year of theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in history. The joy visible in his older brother Christopher, a priest in the Diocese of Arlington, helped inspire Vaccaro to consider the priesthood. Deacon Stephen looks forward to being a priest so that, with the power of Christ in the Sacraments, he can bring the Light of the World to all those in darkness.



Reverend Mr. Jordan M. Willard

Deacon Jordan has just completed his fourth year of theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio. After his first year at Virginia Tech, he realized he might be called to the priesthood and eventually made the decision to enter seminary. He believes his calling to be a priest is part of a larger attraction to a life of service that he has always felt.

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. (Learn more about plenary indulgences here.)