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Holy Orders

Sacrament of Holy Orders

The mission of Christ was entrusted to his Apostles who, in turn, handed on their sacred duties to men after them. This tradition from the Apostles is still followed today through the Rite of Ordination. Whether a deacon, priest, or bishop, all three are conferred on the person by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Deacons focus on service in the Church. Priests are co-workers of the bishops who share in the celebration of the Sacraments. Bishops have been given the fullness of the priesthood and can celebrate all the Sacraments of the Church.

If you are a single Catholic baptized man, you may be able to receive this Sacrament. However, it is not a right, but a priviledge. Therefore, all candidates must be trained and reviewed by the Church to see if this is truly a calling from God. Yet, the variety of men who have discerned to enter seminary are quite varied. For example, even baseball players are drawn to the priesthood.

With the exception of the permanent diaconate, men are normally chosen from those who have lived chaste celibate lives and who can maintain that commitment throughout their lives. It is a sign of singular devotion to the mission of the Gospel and of Jesus Christ.

Curious About the Priesthood?

Do you have the desire to be someone remarkable? If you are curious about being a priest or permanent deacon, you are encouraged to seek out your local priest or diocese's vocation director. Our pastor and parochial vicar would be delighted to talk with you in order to begin the conversation. The vocation director of our diocese is Fr. Jeff Eirvin. You can contact him through our archdiocese vocation web page. There you can watch videos and listen to highlights of this past years' ordinations.

In addition, go to the Archdiocese's official website for priestly vocations to learn more.

Below are a series of excellent videos that may offer you some inspiration and kindle a love for the ordained ministry whether you are being called or not.

2009 Ordinations in NYC
USCCB Feature: Fishers of Men, Pt. 1
USCCB Feature: Fishers of Men, Pt. 2


The word order in Roman antiquity designated an established civil body, especially a governing body. Ordinatio means incorporation into an ordo. In the Church there are established bodies which Tradition, not without a basis in Sacred Scripture,4 has since ancient times called taxeis (Greek) or ordines. And so the liturgy speaks of the ordo episcoporum, the ordo presbyterorum, the ordo diaconorum. Other groups also receive this name of ordo: catechumens, virgins, spouses, widows,. . . .

1538 Integration into one of these bodies in the Church was accomplished by a rite called ordinatio, a religious and liturgical act which was a consecration, a blessing or a sacrament. Today the word "ordination" is reserved for the sacramental act which integrates a man into the order of bishops, presbyters, or deacons, and goes beyond a simple election, designation, delegation, or institution by the community, for it confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a "sacred power" (sacra potestas)5 which can come only from Christ himself through his Church. Ordination is also called consecratio, for it is a setting apart and an investiture by Christ himself for his Church. The laying on of hands by the bishop, with the consecratory prayer, constitutes the visible sign of this ordination.

"The divinely instituted ecclesiastical ministry is exercised in different degrees by those who even from ancient times have been called bishops, priests, and deacons."  Catholic doctrine, expressed in the liturgy, the Magisterium, and the constant practice of the Church, recognizes that there are two degrees of ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ: the episcopacy and the presbyterate . The diaconate is intended to help and serve them. For this reason the term sacerdos in current usage denotes bishops and priests but not deacons. Yet Catholic doctrine teaches that the degrees of priestly participation (episcopate and presbyterate) and the degree of service (diaconate) are all three conferred by a sacramental act called "ordination," that is, by the sacrament of Holy Orders

(CCC1537, 1554)

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