Holy Orders is the Sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his Apostles continues to be exercised in the Church today. It is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It consists of three degrees or orders which are Bishop, Priest and Deacon. These ministries are essential for the life of the church.
Bishops receive the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. They are the chief teachers, sanctifiers and shepherds of their dioceses.
Priests are united with the bishops in participating in the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ. They are ordained to preach the Gospel and celebrate divine worship and the sacraments and be co-workers with the bishops in shepherding the Church.
Deacons receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders also but not the ministerial priesthood. Through ordination the deacon is configured to Christ who came to serve and give his life for all. Deacons may baptize, proclaim the Gospel and preach the homily at Mass. They assist the bishop and/or the priest in the celebration of the Eucharist. Deacons can preside and bless marriages as well as preside at funerals and at the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In addition deacons dedicate themselves to many charitable service ministries in the church.
There are two ways the diaconate is lived out in the church today. The transitional deacon is one who is ordained to the diaconate and then after serving as a deacon for a period of time he is ordained to the priesthood. The permanent deacon is one who after ordination to the diaconate remains a deacon for the rest of his life. A man needs to be at least thirty-five years of age to be ordained to the permanent diaconate. All of the degrees of the Sacrament of Holy Orders are reserved to men and are conferred by the laying on of hands of the bishop.
Those who are interested in the priesthood or the diaconate can contact one of our priests or our deacon at the parish office or the diocesan Office for Vocations for more information.