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St. John Vianney inspired Christopher Tipton to become a priest for the Arlington Diocese

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The priesthood has been a dream for Christopher Tipton for a long time. Born to Pamela and Frank Tipton May 2, 1989 in Fayetteville, N.C., Tipton remembers first thinking about becoming a priest sometime before receiving his first holy Communion. His parents and siblings encouraged his dream and he was not alone. His younger sister, Shannon, just entered the Dominicans of St. Cecilia.

Looking back on his journey, he gives a lot of credit to his family and their lifestyle for his decision to enter the seminary.

“It really is unbelievable the grace that God has given me through the people of Arlington, other seminarians and the liturgy." Christopher Tipton

Being in a military family and moving frequently, his family was drawn toward the one source of stability in their transient lives — the Catholic Church.

“Whenever we went to Mass it was always the same,” said Tipton. “That source of stability really started to entice a curiosity within me to learn about her treasures and wisdom.”

The Tiptons moved six times around Europe after 1997 before returning to the United States. During their European tour, the family found excuses to visit as many holy sites as possible on family vacations and homeschool field trips. Visiting the homes of the saints caused the holy men and women to take on a more prominent role in Tipton’s life.

Trips that stood out the most for Tipton were Chartres, Rome, Fountains Abbey, Cologne Cathedral and Ars, the home of St. John Vianney, which led him to read a biography of the obedient priest who initially failed the test to become a priest.

“I’m inspired by his simplicity, his dedication to persevering for the flock and his patient suffering for the sake of the salvation of souls,” said Tipton, who chose St. John Vianney as his confirmation saint.

Despite aligning himself with the patron of diocesan priests, Tipton also was discerning a call to the monastic life.

When his family moved back to Arlington in 2006 he wanted to attend Quo Vadis, the diocesan discernment group for young men in high school. While Tipton was too old to participate, he was asked to help behind the scenes.

“I was able to form friendships with some of the seminarians,” said Tipton. “It was a natural discernment.”

In 2008, he attended Christendom College in Front Royal where he continued his discernment surrounded by both diocesan and order priests. He also made several visits to Benedictine monasteries at home and abroad. When he graduated college in 2012, he discerned that God wanted him in the diocese and he was accepted at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.

Tipton will take the next step to fulfilling his childhood dream when he is ordained a transitional deacon at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More June 3.

As ordination approaches, he feels the prayers from people in the diocese giving him strength.

“It really is unbelievable the grace that God has given me through the people of Arlington, other seminarians and the liturgy,” said Tipton. “Leading up to it, I am more and more certain that this is what God wants me to do with my life.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017