Sacrament of Holy Orders
1536 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 (Bishop), presbyterate (Priest), and diaconate (Deacon).
THE THREE DEGREES OF THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY ORDERS
1554 “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:
Let everyone revere the deacons as Jesus Christ, the bishop as the image of the Father, and the presbyters as the senate of God and the assembly of the apostles. For without them one cannot speak of the Church.
Bishop – Episcopal ordination – Configured to Christ the Prophet
Priest – Presbyteral ordination – Configured to Christ the High Priest
Deacon – Ordination to the Deaconate – Configured to Christ the King
For additional information about the Diaconate contact the Archdiocesan office for formation of Deacons at St. Charles Seminary at 610-664-2213,
For additional information about the Priesthood contact St. Charles Seminary at 610-667-3394