Holy Orders 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. Thus, it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1536).
It is in the liturgical ritual of the “laying on of hands” that a man is ordained as a bishop, a priest or a deacon. While the bishop is recognized as receiving the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders-to lead, to teach, and to sanctify-the priest is, likewise, united with him in this sacerdotal dignity. The priest is called to be the bishops’ prudent co-worker. The priesthood is a great gift of God to the Church.
Deacons are clergy ordained for service in the Church. Under the authority of the bishop, theirs is a ministry of the Word and charity exercised according to the assignment given by the diocesan Bishop. Inherent with these is performing baptisms, blessing marriages, conducting funeral services, preaching and ministering in a number of other capacities specific the pastoral needs of the parish or institution.
The call to Holy Orders is a mystery directed by God who initiates and plants the seed of a vocation to serve His people. Those individuals who would consider a vocation to the priesthood or diaconate must engage in a careful and thorough process of discernment. A dedicated prayer life, faithful attendance at Mass and the regular reception of the sacraments of the Church will certainly enhance the process by which a person may come to understand God’s plan for his life. Secondly, a discernment of a call to Holy Orders necessitates conversation with others – family, trusted friends, a priest or a deacon. And thirdly, a willingness to trust always in the Lord. God will provide a discerning soul with the signs and the tools to do His will.
Holy Orders, then, is a call and a response. For more information on the sacrament of holy orders or discuss the ordained life, please contact the parish office or contact the diocesan Vocations Director: Fr Gabriel Murphy, Curate’s House, Kiltimgah, Co. Mayo, Tel. 094-938 1492