Holy Orders

Feb 28, 2020

The Sacrament of Holy Orders

In the Catholic faith, the sacrament of Holy Orders is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ. It is a sacred ritual through which bishops, priests, and deacons are ordained and receive the authority to serve the Church and its members. Holy Orders is an essential part of the Catholic Church's hierarchical structure, ensuring the continuation of apostolic succession and the administration of the sacraments.

Becoming an Ordained Minister: The Process

The process of becoming an ordained minister in the Catholic Church involves several stages of formation and discernment. It is a journey that requires dedication, spiritual growth, and a deep understanding of faith and doctrine.

1. Discernment

Discernment is the first step in the journey toward Holy Orders. It is a period of introspection, prayer, and reflection to determine if one is called to serve as a priest or deacon. During this stage, individuals explore their vocation, seeking guidance from spiritual directors and participating in discernment retreats.

2. Application and Seminary Formation

After discernment, those who feel called to pursue Holy Orders submit an application to their diocese or religious order. If accepted, they enter into seminary formation. Seminary provides a structured educational environment where candidates deepen their knowledge of theology, philosophy, scripture, and pastoral ministry. This formation period typically lasts for several years.

3. Candidacy and Discernment Retreat

During the formation process, individuals may be officially accepted as candidates for Holy Orders, known as "candidates" or "seminarians." This stage focuses on pastoral experience and ongoing spiritual formation. Candidates participate in various ministries and engage in a discernment retreat to evaluate their readiness for ordination.

4. Diaconate Ordination

Upon completion of the required seminary formation, candidates who are preparing for the transitional diaconate undergo a special ordination ceremony. The diaconate is a temporary stage, typically lasting for about a year, during which the individual serves as a deacon, performing liturgical and pastoral duties.

5. Priesthood Ordination

After the diaconate stage, candidates who are called to the priesthood continue their formation and preparation for the priesthood ordination. The final ordination ceremony, conducted by the bishop, confers the sacrament of Holy Orders, allowing the individual to serve as a priest.

Responsibilities of Ordained Ministers

Once ordained, priests and deacons take on specific responsibilities within the Catholic Church, serving God and the faithful. Their duties include:


  • Presiding over the Eucharist and celebrating Mass
  • Administering the sacraments, including Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick
  • Offering pastoral guidance, spiritual direction, and counseling
  • Leading worship services and delivering homilies
  • Providing religious instruction and education
  • Overseeing the administration of parishes and pastoral planning


  • Assisting priests during liturgical celebrations
  • Proclaiming the Gospel and delivering homilies
  • Performing baptisms, weddings, and funeral rites
  • Visiting and supporting the sick, homebound, and vulnerable
  • Engaging in charitable and social justice work
  • Assisting in parish administration and community outreach

The Importance of Holy Orders

Holy Orders plays a vital role in the Catholic Church as it ensures the continuation of Christ's mission and the spiritual well-being of the faithful. Through Holy Orders, individuals are called to serve and lead the Church, embodying the love, mercy, and teachings of Jesus Christ.


Holy Orders is a sacrament of great significance within the Catholic faith. It is a calling, a journey, and a commitment to a life of service to God and His Church. Through the process of discernment, formation, and ordination, men are prepared to become ordained ministers, serving as priests and deacons, guiding the faithful, and administering the sacraments. The responsibilities of ordained ministers are vast, encompassing pastoral care, spiritual guidance, and the overall well-being of the Catholic community. By embracing Holy Orders, individuals dedicate their lives to God's work, spreading His message of love and salvation to all.

This page is part of the Holy Orders section of the official website of Saint Joseph's Polish Catholic Church, under the category of Community and Society - Faith and Beliefs.

Kerry Lunn
This article provides a insightful and comprehensive explanation of the importance and significance of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Oct 14, 2023