Holy Orders

The sacrament of Holy Orders is the sacrament of apostolic ministry through which Christ continues His saving work in the world (CCC 1536). It is called “orders” because it includes three degrees or orders—the diaconate, the presbyterate and the episcopate—each of which exercises a unique duty and authority (CCC 1537). These three degrees of Holy Orders have existed since the very earliest days of the Church and their importance is attested to by St. Ignatius of Antioch. Writing in the first decade of the second century, he says, “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” (Ad Tralliani 3: 1). The priesthood, found both in the presbyterate and the episcopacy, imitates Christ as pontifex, pontem faciens: the bridge-builder. It is the priest who links God to people and people to God as Christ did in His incarnation.

The essential rite of the sacrament of Holy Orders for all three degrees consists in the bishop's imposition of hands on the head of the ordinand and in the bishop's specific consecratory prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and his gifts proper to the ministry to which the candidate is being ordained (CCC 1573).


• Candidates for Holy Orders must be baptized and confirmed males judged worthy by the bishop (CIC 1024 & 1025).

In Our Diocese:

  • Men interested in the priesthood should contact Father Wesley Schawe, director of seminarians, at 620-227-1533, Ext. 215.

Further Reading: