Sacrament of Holy Orders
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission given by Christ to the Apostles continues in the Church until the end of time. Christ Himself is the source of ministry in the Church, and He set up in His Church a variety of offices to serve the entire People of God so that all people may be brought to holiness and salvation.
There are three degrees, or orders, of the Sacrament of Holy Orders: Bishop (the episcopacy), Priest (the presbyterate), and Deacon (the diaconate). All three are conferred by a sacramental act called “ordination.”
Bishops are considered successors to the apostles and exercise their ministry by the pastoral care of a diocese that is entrusted to him. Priests are co-workers of the bishops and they represent the bishop in their pastoral work in parishes. Deacons assist the bishop and priests in ministries of word and charity.