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Bishop Burbidge ordains two transitional deacons

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This story has been updated.

At the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington June 3, Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge ordained Chris F. Tipton and Michael J. Folmar as transitional deacons for the diocese. As they knelt in obedience, Bishop Burbidge told the two men, “May God, who has begun a good work in you, bring it to fulfillment.”

In the next several months, Deacon Folmar will serve All Saints Church in Manassas, Deacon Tipton will serve the cathedral and then they both will continue their seminary studies. The graces they received from ordination and the experiential wisdom they will gain prepare them further for the priesthood.

The ordination of the two men reminded Bishop Burbidge of how Christ sent men in twos to proclaim the Gospel. “We recall the scene from the Acts of the Apostles in which another famous pair, Peter and John, were sent forth and even in the midst of fierce opposition remained undaunted in their faith and zeal,” he said.

The church asks much of its ordained: truthfulness, faithfulness, generosity and temperance, among other things, said the bishop. But he asked the men not to be overwhelmed. “In the midst of all this, the Lord our God provides you with powerful assurances. He says to you, as he did to Jeremiah: ‘Have no fear because I am with you to deliver you.’ ”

“Remember the words you heard today — ‘whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies,’ ” said the bishop.

On the morning before Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit was conferred upon the men as the bishop laid his hands over them and recited the prayer of ordination. From across the sanctuary, Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde beamed.


The men came to the altar wearing albs, but then were vested with the stole and the dalmatic — articles that signify their role in celebrating the Eucharist. An ordained minister friend or mentor of their choosing assisted them in donning the vestments. Father Edward R. Horkan, parochial administrator of Our Lady of the Valley Church in Luray, vested Deacon Folmar. Deacon Thomas L. Grodek of Holy Spirit Church in Annandale vested Deacon Tipton.

Deacon Grodek, who was ordained a permanent deacon by Bishop Burbidge only five months ago, was deeply touched that he was asked to be the vesting clergy for a fellow parishioner. “(Deacon Tipton) witnessed my family life, my formation and my ordination,” he said. “It was so recent for me that the emotion really welled up.”

Bishop Burbidge then placed the book of the Gospels in the hand of each deacon and said, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.” Each deacon and priest present warmly greeted the newly ordained.

Deacons Tipton and Folmar processed out of the cathedral to a hymn proclaiming the words of the great commission — “Go make of all disciples.” Their family, friends, supportive religious and lay people, and tables of food awaited them in Burke Hall after Mass. 


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

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017