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The sacrament of Holy Orders is one of the seven sacraments in the Catholic Church. The sacrament is conferred upon deacons, priests and bishops. The sacrament is presided over by a bishop and through the “laying on of hands” the sacrament is conferred in a ceremony called ordination. Since the days of the Early Church, men have been chosen by the community and given the power of the Holy Spirit through the “Laying on of Hands” through ordination. It is through this line of ordination traced back to the apostles that we have “apostolic succession” in the Catholic Church. The sacrament of Holy Orders makes possible the other sacraments in the church.

The sacrament takes place in three levels.


Baptized Catholic men, who are recommended by the church after a period of formation lasting from 5 to 9 years. Priests can be diocesan priests or religious community priests. Every priest is “incardinated” into a diocese in which they serve, or a religious community. The primary function of a priest is to celebrate the sacraments and to teach and lead the People of God. Most diocesan priests serve in parishes, but some are also ministering in schools or other ministries. Most religious community priests serve in the apostolates of their respective religious communities such as education, missionary work, retreat centers or monasteries. Some religious communities also administer parishes entrusted to them. Religious community priests make the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Diocesan priests make the promises of celibacy and obedience to their local ordinary.



Can be a permanent state or transitional. Permanent Deacons are men, who are often married, who after a period of formation usually taking place over a five-year period are called forth by the church to serve as deacons for the rest of their lives. They are called to a ministry of charity and service. Deacons assist in liturgical functions such as officiating at marriages, funeral services outside of Mass, burials, and can celebrate the sacrament of baptism. The deacon proclaims the Gospel at Mass and can preach the homily. Transitional deacons are men who are preparing for the priesthood. They serve as transitional deacons for a period of 6 months to one year as part of their final formation before ordination to the priesthood. Transitional deacons make a promise of celibacy for the rest of their lives. Deacons make a promise of obedience to their local ordinary.


Chosen by the pope to serve as a shepherd of a diocese. Bishops have the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Some large dioceses also have “Auxiliary bishops” who are bishops who assist in the ministry to the Ordinary (bishop) of the diocese. Archbishops are bishops in an archdiocese, a title given to a larger diocese in a region and serves as the promoter of unity among the bishops in his region, (ecclesiastical province) called the Metropolitan bishop. We belong to the Diocese of Palm Beach. Florida has seven dioceses, with the archbishop of Miami who serves as the Metropolitan.

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