Sacrament of Holy Orders

The Sacrament of Holy Orders

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is the continuation of Christ’s priesthood, which he bestowed upon his Apostles.

In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest being ordained vows to lead other Catholics by bringing them the sacraments (especially the Eucharist), by proclaiming the Gospel, and by providing other means for Catholics to embrace and witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The three levels of the sacrament are Diaconate, Priesthood and Episcopacy.

• Diaconate: Deacons serve by presiding at some liturgical celebrations outside of Mass, like baptisms, weddings and funerals. They can proclaim the Gospel and give homilies. They commit themselves to visiting the sick and ministering the Eucharist, preparing couples for marriage, and other parish work.

• Priesthood: Priests act in the person of Christ with authority to preside at Mass, hear confessions, and annoint the sick. Many are pastors of parishes with responsibilities of administration along with pastoral service. The priest acts in the person of Christ as a spiritual father.

• Episcopacy: The order of Bishop is the highest of the Holy Orders. Some priests are called to the order of Bishop to lead a diocesan family and make decisions on behalf of God’s people in their diocese and in the wider, global Church.

Further Information and Assistance

People who think they may be called to the Sacrament of Holy Orders have access to a wealth of resources, human and material, that can assist in their discernment. One such resource is the Vocations Office of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. See: