Bishop Burbidge ordains three new priests

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This article was updated June 11.

The ranks of the diocesan priesthood increased by three June 10 as Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge ordained three men at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More. It was the bishop’s first priesthood ordination as the fourth bishop of Arlington.

“Never allow the demands and busyness of priestly ministry to take you away from what is most essential: being still with the Lord each day in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament."

The newly ordained and their first assignments include: Father Steven G. Oetjen (St. James Church in Falls Church), Father Stephen M. Vaccaro (Church of the Nativity in Burke) and Father Jordan M. Willard (St. Theresa Church in Ashburn).

Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde presided at the Mass, which was concelebrated by more than 100 priests. Bishop Burbidge was the homilist.

 “What a blessed and glorious day for the church and our diocese as these three men, your sons, brothers, family members and friends, are about to be ordained priests,” Bishop Burbidge said in his homily.

“We are about to witness a miracle as these three men, through the laying on of hands and the Prayer of Ordination, will be ordained priests and forever configured to the very person of Jesus Christ,” the bishop said.

“Steven, Jordan and Stephen, soon you will be assigned to serve the faithful at the parishes of St. James, St. Theresa and Nativity. So many will begin to introduce themselves to you. In addition to telling you their names, they also will speak to you about themselves as they directly and indirectly convey their spiritual disposition and their pastoral needs.”

He told the candidates that with God’s grace, especially through the Sacrament of Penance, the faithful will be made ever more aware of God’s great love and of the truth that no sin is greater than His divine mercy.

“In many different ways the faithful, including our young people, will express to you that they are disillusioned with the empty promises of the world,” Bishop Burbidge said. “How much they seek the Truth and nourishment that will sustain them. How blessed you will be to preach the Gospel with conviction and compassion.”

The bishop told the candidates that they will have to work hard and they must wake up each day with renewed vigor, zeal and enthusiasm. This will only happen if they heed the words of Jesus who says, “Remain in my love.”

“Never allow the demands and busyness of priestly ministry to take you away from what is most essential: being still with the Lord each day in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament; praying fervently, including the daily recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours and constantly calling upon our Blessed Mother for her powerful intercession.

“The Lord our God sends you forth to be instruments of His mercy,” Bishop Burbidge said, “to preach the Gospel and nourish His people with the Sacraments of the church, to imitate His humble sacrificial service and to proclaim to others that only in Jesus Christ is our joy complete. So, be wise, and remain in His love, the One who lives and reigns forever and ever.”

Michael Oetjen, the father of Father Oetjen, said he felt blessed as he watched his oldest son’s ordination. He said one of their family members always said that when Steven was little he had a halo over his head.

Glenn Willard, the father of Father Willard, said he felt joy as he watched his son’s ordination, especially when the last hymn was sung. “That hymn (‘O God beyond All Praising’) was the same hymn that marked our entrance into the church 21 years ago,” he said. “It’s almost like a dream. It’s beyond real.”

As she was watching her son get ordained, Frances Vaccaro said, “I was thinking of how many people he can help. He’s going to a parish (Nativity) with a lot of people, and I was thinking what a wonderful thing.”

Father Stephen Vaccaro joins his older brother Christopher as a member of the diocesan clergy. Father Christopher T. Vaccaro, who was ordained in 2009, is the Catholic chaplain at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. Another brother, Brian, is a seminarian with the Redemptorists.

“It’s a great blessing for all of us,” said Father Christopher Vaccaro. “I know all of my brothers and sisters and my parents are not only excited, but glad the Lord has blessed us with so many vocations.”

Father Christopher said he gave his younger brother some simple advice. “When I put the vestment on I said now he can pay for meals since I’ve been paying all of these years. In all seriousness, I said just be a good priest.”

Buy photos from the priesthood ordination at catholicherald.smugmug.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017