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Deacon Jordan Willard looks forward to the grace of ordination

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As a child, Deacon Jordan M. Willard often served as an altar boy, taking his cues from the priest during the Mass. In the past year as a transitional deacon, Deacon Willard also has spent much of his time on the heels of the parish priests that he served, soaking up all the knowledge and wisdom he could before his ordination. “Diaconate year is really a time for observation,” said Deacon Willard. “It’s very much a learning phase.”


Deacon Willard, along with Deacons Stephen Vaccaro and Steven Oetjen, will be ordained to the priesthood by Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge June 10. Deacon Willard and his family moved to the area and began attending St. Francis de Sales Church in Purcellville in 2000.

Deacon Willard, one of 12 children, was born to Glenn and Joanna Willard in Lansing, Mich., in 1989. The whole family converted to Catholicism in 1996 after years of attending Episcopal services. He graduated from the Heights School in Potomac, Md., and briefly attended Virginia Tech before discerning a vocation to the priesthood. In 2010, he began formation at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.

In addition to taking his final year of classes, Deacon Willard has spent the past year listening and learning. He was able to preach at Mass about once a month and performed eight baptisms, including the baptism of his niece, Isabella Louise Willard.

Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde, the bishop who guided him in his vocation, also will be present at his ordination Mass. Bishop Loverde’s direction throughout his formation has been instrumental, said Deacon Willard. “Bishop Loverde felt like a second father to me. I say that without exaggeration,” he said.

At the same time, Deacon Willard is excited to get to know Bishop Burbidge. “I’m amazed at the presence he has had the past few months he’s been here,” said Deacon Willard. “I look forward to serving him.”

Deacon Willard feels blessed by the support and “abundant prayers” his home parish of St. Francis de Sales has offered on his behalf. Unfortunately, the church is undergoing major renovations and so he has chosen to celebrate his first Mass in his high school’s chapel.

“In many ways, you could say the Heights was the first place I took personal initiative with my faith on a significant level,” he said. “I’m not sure if I would’ve entered seminary if not for the tools they had given me.”

Once ordained, he will be parochial vicar of St. Theresa Church in Ashburn. “I look forward to getting to work, honestly,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the graces and the peace that I hope to receive when I lay down on that marble floor.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017