Holy Orders


By the imposition of the bishop’s hands and the consecratory prayer, a man receives the Sacrament of Holy Orders, in which a sacred power is given for the service of the faithful. This service is exercised in the ministries of teaching, pastoral governing, and sanctification. There are three degrees of Holy Orders: deacon, priest, and bishop. Deacons can baptize and witness the Sacrament of Matrimony, as can priests and bishops. Bishops and priests serve the Church in the person of Christ as head of the body. They have the power to administer the other Sacraments. The priests are the co-workers of the bishop, who is the chief shepherd of the diocese (geographical area).


In the Roman Catholic Church, men who have received the gift of celibacy are ordained priests and transitional deacons. Married men may be ordained permanent deacons. The requirement of celibacy for the priesthood is a unique way of conforming one’s life to the Heart of Jesus, who is wed to the Church. In imitation of Christ, the priest remains unmarried and so is free to offer his love to God and his family, the Church.


To learn more about the Sacrament of Holy Orders: