It is the Sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time. Just like marriage, it confers a special grace for a particular mission in the Church to serve and build up the People of God.
Compendium Catechism of the Catholic Church, No’s 321-322
In this Sacrament men are ordained to serve in persona Christi– in the person of Christ. A man, once ordained, is constituted a minister of the Church. There are three orders of Holy Orders –
- Diaconate (Deacon)
- Presbyterate (Priest)
- Episcopate (Bishop)
The call to service is at the heart of Holy Orders. Only a validly ordained Bishop can confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Deacons are called to serve local Churches, local communities. Those ordained to the Diaconate can baptise, preside at a wedding ceremony where there is a Liturgy of the Word or a Holy Communion Service.
Priests are called to serve the People of God in the name of Jesus Christ, the eternal priest. A priest is consecrated to preach the Gospel and to celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist from which his ministry draws its strength. Only a priest can preside at the Eucharist, absolve sins or anoint the ill. A priest is charged to be a shepherd of the local flock to which he is assigned by the Bishop. Ordained priests in the exercise of their sacred ministry speak and act not on their own authority, or even by mandate or delegation of the local community, but rather in the Person of Christ the Head and in the name of the Church.
Bishops are called to be the visible head and foundation of unity for each local Church (or diocese). He fulfills the office of shepherd and is assisted by the priests and deacons. Bishops are appointed by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, The communion between our local Church here and the See of Peter is real and is especially emphasised in the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass. Episcopal Ordination makes the Bishop a legitimate successor of the apostles and enables him to share with the Pope and other Bishops a care for the whole Church.
If you are interested learning more about vocations to the Priesthood or Religious Life, visit www.vocations.ie
The Diocesan Director of Vocations is: Rev. Raymond Donnelly, Parochial House, 4 Darling St, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. BT74 7EW Tel. +44 028 66322075 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers”
– St Thomas Aquinas.