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A new chaplain joins John Paul the Great for 2020-21 school year

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In a constantly changing world, there is one particular change bringing joy and new energy to the community at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Potomac Shores. The school is proud and excited to welcome its new chaplain, Father Christopher F. Tipton.

Ordained in 2018, Father Tipton’s first assignment was at St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax. When he received his new assignment to John Paul the Great, Father Tipton joked with his parishioners that he was lucky to have back-to-back assignments at both of the “Greats” in the diocese.

Father Tipton’s call to the priesthood is inspiring. He knew from the age of 6 that he wanted to be a priest. He recalled that around that time, he was at a Mass and was fascinated by the consecration and the feeling it gave him. He knew that something was happening but did not understand what it was. After Mass, the priest explained it to him, and that was when he knew the priesthood was the life for him.

Part of an Army family, Father Tipton was, as he likes to say, “born in North Carolina, but raised everywhere else.” He is the second oldest in his family, with one brother and four sisters. One of his sisters, only a year younger, also was called to the religious life, and is a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia. Due to his family’s frequent moves, Father Tipton had a variety of school experiences, including public, private and military base schools, as well as home schooling. In high school, he began to actively discern his vocation and felt an attraction to the Benedictine order as well as the diocesan priesthood. After high school, he attended Christendom College in Front Royal, majoring in philosophy and theology and continuing the discernment process. It was in his junior year of college that he knew what he was called to do. He said, the beauty of the Diocese of Arlington struck him deeply, so much so that he applied to be a seminarian for the diocese. Bishop Paul S. Loverde accepted his application and sent him to study at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., after he graduated from Christendom in 2012.

Father Tipton said he is very excited to be working at a high school and has great goals for his time at John Paul the Great. He has always wanted to be a chaplain and feels “extremely blessed” to be part of the formation of the youths in the diocese as warriors of the faith. He wants to help the students grow in their relationship with Christ through the Mass. Father Tipton loves the bonds he has seen among students within the school’s house system and hopes to build on those bonds through the development of holiness. The hybrid school model is also important to him, as he believes that being in person for education is invaluable. As he says, education is “formation, not just information.” 

John Paul the Great is looking forward to a great year. Despite unprecedented circumstances and unique challenges, with a chaplain like Father Tipton, no mountain will be too high.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020