Holy Orders Page
The Sacrament of Holy Orders
All members of the church participate in the priesthood of all believers through Baptism. However, some men are called to serve Jesus and the Church today through the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Through their leadership in the Church, they help continue Jesus’ presence on earth in the tradition of the apostles.
Those who are called to be priests are ordained through the Rite of Ordination. In celebrating this Rite, men receive a permanent spiritual mark, called a character, signifying that they represent Jesus’ presence in the Church.
There are three levels of participation in the Sacrament of Holy Orders: as bishop, as a priest (from presbyter, which is Greek for “elder”), and as a deacon. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Risen Christ continues to lead His flock here on earth through the ministerial priesthood ordained for this purpose through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. This particular sacrament is called 'orders' because there are three participatory degrees to this sacrament, all 'ordered' to one another. The three orders are bishop, priest, and deacon; all ordered to serve in distinct yet inter-connected ways. We are all by our baptism part of the common priesthood of Jesus Christ, but from among the faithful some are chosen for the ministerial priesthood and 'ordered' in a special way to be at service of the common priesthood. The ordained priesthood is a means by which Jesus Christ builds up and leads His Church here on earth (CCC 1544-1547).