For information on all vocations and how we are all called to serve the Lord, please visit the Vocations page.
A Sacrament of Mission at the Service of Unity
Holy Orders is the Sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles to proclaim the Good News continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time. Holy Orders has three degrees, which are the episcopate (bishop), the presbyterate (priest), and the diaconate (deacon). Through the laying on of hands, men are ordained bishop or priest for roles of leadership in the Church or ordained deacon for the role of service in the Church.
Priest, Prophet & King
At Baptism, we were all anointed with the Chrism of Salvation as priest, prophet and king. This mandate of our baptismal call is further emphasized at ordination. Once the candidate for Holy Orders is called forward the ”official” homily echoes these three offices of baptism:
“… you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher … see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach … let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God.
“… you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ… Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. … when you gather others into the people of God through Baptism … Penance; when you comfort the sick … when you offer prayers of praise … carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ….
“… dear son, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, … strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.”
As clergy live out these offices in their daily lives, they probably never really think ”am I being ‘priestly’ as I celebrate this baptism or am I being ‘prophetic’ as I speak to this group of students, or am I living out the ‘shepherding’ role as I sit here at a committee meeting.” Yet we are reminded by the Church’s instruction to the ordained that these offices of priest, prophet and king must be nurtured each day as this vocation is lived out in the ordinary moments of everyday life.
Formation for Holy Orders
In seminary, these three offices are nourished by the four areas of formation which are human, intellectual, pastoral and spiritual:
- Human Formation aims to cultivate the humanity of priests so that they can be authentic men of the Gospel, communicating the message of Jesus Christ to those in their spiritual care.
- Intellectual Formation aims to deepen the understanding of faith seeking to link theoretical knowledge with practical wisdom. It balances being pastor and theologian; it requires pastoral theology and theological reflection.
- Pastoral Formation entails the development of skills that enable priests to serve their people well. These skills would include preaching and proclamation, presiding, counselling and communication skills. It is the practical side of theology.
- Spiritual Formation aims to develop a life long desire to grow in the Christian life, striving each day to become better disciples of Jesus Christ.
Where to Go from Here
If you feel that God is calling you to Holy Orders, continue to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and to speak to your parish priest or the Diocesan Vocation Director by clicking here.
A Prayer for Priests
Gracious and loving God, we thank you for the gift of our priests. Through them, we experience your presence in the Sacraments. Help our priests to be strong in their vocation. Set their souls on fire with love for your people. Grant them the wisdom, understanding and strength they need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Inspire them with the vision of your kingdom. Give them the words they need to spread the Gospel. Allow them to experience joy in their ministry. Help them to become instruments of your divine grace. We ask this through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns as our Eternal Priest. Amen.