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..
God equips those he calls to his ordained ministry. In the Roman Catholic Church, there is a hierarchy of ordained ministers that exercise the Priesthood of Jesus Christ on earth. From the very beginning of Christ’s public ministry, he chose twelve men
that will who would exercise his priestly ministry on earth. He asked Peter, “who do people say that I am?’ (Matthew 16:15). Peter responded, “You are the Christ” (Mt. 16:16). Jesus said to Peter, “And I tell you upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18). Christ knew that before he ascended to the Father he would delegate a vicar on earth to teach, govern, and sanctify his Church on earth. For this reason, the apostolic succession continues by the laying of hands for ordained ministers. St. Paul says, “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands’ (2 Tim. 1:6). Thus, a person, who is ordained by the laying of the hands, is an ordained minister, including the Pope, Bishops, Cardinals, Priests, and Deacons.
Now, the diaconate has two separate tracts to ministry. There is the permanent diaconate, where men are not intending to continue beyond the first level of ordination, (i.e. they intend to remain in service as a deacon forever and not become a priest). Permanent deacons who are married may remain so and have children. If, however a man is not married when beginning formation for the diaconate, he may not then marry. Additionally, if the deacon’s spouse were to pre-decease him, the deacon may not re-marry. The permanent diaconate exercises the priesthood of Jesus Christ within his Church. Deacons are able to baptize, witness marriages, celebrate funerals, and proclaimed the word of God in the Liturgy (public worship). In contrast, men in formation for the transitional diaconate are in the process of becoming priests and do so as celibate imitators of Christ himself for the sake of the kingdom of God.
For those who are interested in discerning a vocation to the priesthood or the permanent diaconate you may apply to the archdiocese and express your intention to discern the call to know whether God is calling you to holy orders. This discerning process does take time, prayer, and commitment. If you are interested in knowing more about the program please click on the link below or talk to your pastor or priest in the parish for more information.