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The Basic Values of the Catholic Church

The Sacrament of Holy Orders

In Holy Orders, men are ordained as priests to lead the community, as bishops to shepherd the Church, or as deacons to serve the community. The sacrament involves the laying on of hands for all three, and the anointing with Sacred Chrism for bishops and priests. Holy Orders is the sacrament by which men are called by the Holy Spirit to serve the Church.

Holy Orders - Catholic Catechism

There are three Offices (Degrees or kinds of participation) in the Sacrament of Holy Orders:


 1. Order of Bishop

A bishop receives the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He is head of a local church called a diocese. He is also part of the episcopal college, the group of bishops who, with the pope, guide the Church. Bishops are successors of the apostles with the fullness of Christ’s priesthood.

2. Order of Priest 

Priests serve the community in various ways, such as presiding at liturgies, preaching, celebrating the sacraments, and teaching. Priests are the co- workers of the bishop.

3. Order of Deacon

Deacons serve the needs of the community, proclaim the Gospel, teach, baptize, witness marriages, and assist the bishop and priests at Mass. There are two types of Deacon: Transitional Deacon and Permanent Deacon. A Transitional Deacon is studying to become a Priest. Whereas, the Permanent Deacon is called to remain a deacon for life. Permanent Deacons are usually married before becoming deacons since once they enter into the office of deacon, they can no longer get married.


The Sacrament of Holy Orders produces the following effects:




Men receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the Rite of Ordination, by which the bishop, through the laying on of hands, prays a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to give candidates the ability to minister to the Church. Through this rite these men receive a permanent spiritual mark (indelible mark) marking them as representing Jesus’ presence in the Church.

Only bishops can ordain men to the Sacrament of Holy Orders by the laying on of hands and the prayer of consecration. During the ordination to the diaconate, the deacon makes a promise of celibacy (they won’t get married), prayer, and obedience to the bishop and his successors. At a priesthood ordination, the priest’s hands are anointed with the Sacred Chrism. During the ordination of a bishop, the new bishop’s head is anointed with Sacred Chrism.